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Intraventricular Hemorrhage

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The blood vessels in the brain of a premature baby are very tiny and have very fragile walls. Sudden changes in your baby's condition can cause these vessels to break. When the vessels break, blood leaks into the brain tissue or into fluid filled spaces called ventricles. A ventricle is a space inside the brain that holds fluid which cushions the brain and spinal cord. When there is bleeding into the brain or ventricles, it is called an intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH). Bleeding often happens within the first few days of life.

Bleeding can occur in different amounts or "grades." There are four grades: I, II, III, and IV. The higher the grade of the bleed, the more blood that can be seen in the ventricle. Grade I and II bleeds are usually absorbed (taken up) by the body after a few weeks. Grade III and IV bleeds are harder to be absorbed. A Grade III or IV bleed has a higher chance of causing problems because the large amount of blood takes up the space where normal brain tissue should develop.


To find out how much bleeding has occurred, your baby will have a special test called a Cranial Sector Scan which is a type of Ultrasound. These tests do not hurt your baby; in fact, many babies sleep through the tests. The tests use sound waves to produce a picture on a TV screen. Your baby's soft spot is used to check for signs of bleeding.


Over the next few days to weeks, your baby will have several head ultrasounds to check for signs of bleeding. If bleeding is found, your baby's head will be measured daily to watch for signs of increasing size. If the head size increases, then treatment may be needed as directed by the doctor.

Please feel free to ask your baby's doctors any questions you may have. You can arrange a meeting with your baby's doctors by asking your baby's nurse and/or one of the nurse practitioners. We are glad to meet with you and discuss your baby's health.

Disclaimer:This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

Reviewed: 07/2018

(757) 668-7000