Beware of Lucid Intervals After a Colorado Car Accident

Lucid Intervals After a Colorado Car Accident

Written by Jeremy D. Earle, JD

May 26, 2023

What Are Lucid Intervals?

You’ve recently been in a car accident. You believe you were knocked out for a bit of a moment, but  you’re not sure. As you step out of the car, you’re a bit dizzy, but otherwise, you’re alright.  

You have minor scrapes and bruises, but you don’t mind as you check on the other driver and assess the damage to your car.

Your haze fades off as the police and Emergency Response Teams arrive, and you report no injuries other than cuts. When the EMTs ask whether you’ve lost consciousness, you’re unsure if you have,  but you tell them no since you’re OK. They send you back to your house.

You’re discovered asleep in your living room an hour later. You’re hurried to the emergency room, but it’s too late. You’ve had a brain hemorrhage. How could this have happened if you were OK after the accident?

Following a loss of consciousness caused by a concussive force of impact, the victim’s health may  recover for a short time before deteriorating. A lucid interval is a term for this phase of progress.

It  may persist from a few minutes to many hours and can be caused by any traumatic brain injury. It is more prevalent in epidural hematomas, where it occurs 20 to 50 percent of the time.

Free Consultation 

In Person | Phone | Zoom


After the initial loss of consciousness due to the primary brain injury or traumatic brain injury, the  condition rapidly deteriorates due to blood accumulation from subdural or epidural hematomas (‘peridural hematomas’), contusions/intracerebral hematomas, and brain swelling, which may cause  headache, vomiting, drowsiness, confusion, aphasia, seizures, and hemiparesis.

For most peridural hematomas, the lucid period lasts minutes to hours, although it may last up to a few days for increasing intracerebral hematomas and brain edema 1).

A clear interval is particularly symptomatic of subdural or epidural hematomas (‘peridural hematomas’), which are blood collections inside the possible space between the outer layer of the  dura mater and the inner table of the skull 2).

Patients with an epidural hematoma have a lucid interval in 14 to 21% of cases 3). On the other hand, maybe these individuals are unconscious from the start, recover consciousness after a short coma, or have no consciousness loss 4).

As a result, the symptoms might vary from a brief loss of consciousness to a coma. Be aware that the lucid gap is not always indicative of an epidural hematoma, and it may also occur in individuals with other growing mass lesions. Pure epidural hematomas that are quite big and show ongoing bleeding on a CT scan have the characteristic lucid interval.

The severity of the symptoms is determined by how rapidly the epidural hematoma inside the cerebral vault develops. A minor epidural hematoma may be asymptomatic. However, this is uncommon. An epidural hematoma may also develop over a long period.

An epidural hematoma in the posterior fossa is an uncommon occurrence. This epidural hematoma may account for 5% of all cerebral mass lesions after a traumatic injury.

Patients with a posterior fossa epidural hematoma may stay awake until the hematoma has progressed to the point where they lose consciousness, become apneic, and die. By removing the dura above the transverse sinus,  these lesions often expand into the supratentorial compartment, resulting in substantial cerebral  hemorrhage.

This enlarging hematoma eventually leads to an increase in intracranial pressure (ICP), which can be detected in a clinical setting by ipsilateral pupil dilation (due to uncal herniation and oculomotor  nerve compression), hypertension, widened pulse pressure (increasing systolic, decreasing diastolic),  slowed heart rate (bradycardia), and irregular breathing).

The “Cushing reflex” or Cushing’s triad 6) is the name given to this trio. These results might point to the necessity for rapid intracranial intervention to avoid CNS depression and mortality.

The Cushing trio is most often seen in the latter stages of severe head injury due to the Cushing response. Although the Cushing triad is a homeostatic reaction by the body to rescue under- perfused brain regions, it is sadly a late warning of rising ICP and an indication of impending brainstem herniation).

Patients with elevated ICP and two of three symptoms of the Cushing reflex who report to the emergency room have a nearly two-fold greater death rate than patients with normal and stable vital signs. As a result, it’s critical to notice early indicators of raised ICP (such as a headache, nausea,  vomiting, or a change in the level of consciousness) so that treatment may begin as soon as feasible. ).

Many doctors consider the presence of bradycardia and hypertension to be a sign of elevated ICP.  This, on the other hand, indicates a late-stage Cushing reflex with a dismal prognosis for the patient.  In the future, it may be prudent to check for tachycardia and hypertension in patients with suspected intracranial disease so that treatment may begin as soon as possible 9).

The Cushing reflex is almost often an irreversible disorder with a patient’s prognosis of death. Initial emergency therapies include elevating the patient’s head 30 to 45 degrees, using an osmotic diuretic  such as mannitol or furosemide, induced hyperventilation, steroids, or CSF fluid drainage 10).

Other than catastrophic brain damage, lucid periods may occur in the circumstances like heat stroke. and in epileptic patients, the postictal period following episodes 12).

A hematoma in the epidural space is a neurosurgical emergency. To avoid irreparable brain impairment and death due to hematoma extension and herniation, epidural hematomas must be surgically evacuated as soon as possible. It is critical to seek neurosurgical advice as soon as possible  since it is critical to act within 1 to 2 hours after presentation.

The first objective is to stabilize the patient, which includes addressing the ABCs (airway, breathing,  and circulation) as soon as possible.

Patients with the following conditions should have surgery: GCS less than 9 with pupillary abnormalities such as anisocoria Acute epidural hematoma

Hematoma volume larger than 30 ml independent of Glasgow coma scale score Management of operations

Craniotomy and hematoma evacuation are used to treat individuals with acute and symptomatic epidural hematomas. According to the current evidence, if the more sophisticated surgical skill is lacking, “trephination” or burr hole evacuation is frequently a key type of intervention; it may even  reduce mortality. However, if a craniotomy is possible, it may enable a complete evacuation of the hematoma.


In individuals with epidural hematoma, there is a lack of evidence comparing conservative therapy versus surgical surgery. In a patient with an acute epidural hematoma who has minor symptoms and  fits all of the criteria stated below, a non-surgical approach may be considered:

GCS more than eight and no focal neurological symptoms on physical examination • Epidural hematoma volume less than 30 ml • Clot diameter less than 15 mm • Midline shift less than 5 mm

Assume you’ve decided to treat an acute epidural hematoma without surgery. Because of the danger of hematoma enlargement and clinical worsening, thorough monitoring with frequent neurological tests and continuous surveillance with brain imaging is essential. Following a brain  injury, a follow-up head CT scan should be obtained within 6 to 8 hours.


When it comes to bleeding, the lucid period happens after the patient is knocked out by the trauma’s  first concussive force and then briefly recovers before relapsing into unconsciousness when the  hematoma expands beyond the body’s ability to adjust. After the injury, the patient is stunned           or knocked unconscious for a short time before becoming reasonably lucid for minutes or hours.

Following that, the blood gathers inside the skull, increasing intracranial pressure, which destroys brain tissue. Furthermore, certain individuals may acquire “pseudoaneurysms” following trauma,  which might ultimately rupture and bleed, explaining the delay in losing consciousness.

Because a patient may have a lucid period, any serious head trauma is treated as a medical emergency, even if the patient is aware.

A clear gap after modest head trauma may be followed by delayed cerebral edema, an extremely dangerous and probably deadly syndrome in which the brain expands substantially.

Besides catastrophic brain injuries, lucid periods may occur in the circumstances like heat stroke and the postictal phase following convulsions in epileptic patients.


The brain is bleeding, and blood is piling up in the skull during lucid time. It continues to rise until the victim’s cranial pressure becomes too much to bear and he or she passes out. Severe health repercussions will arise if the problem is not handled right away. This is why, following a head injury,

most physicians would advise you not to sleep for a particular length of time and will often check  you over the next 24 hours.

Assume you or a loved one has suffered a head injury in an accident, had an undetected lucid phase,  and then lost consciousness due to the head injury. In such a situation, you must contact a personal injury lawyer in El Paso County after seeking medical care.

An EMT or emergency department doctor should give you precise advice on monitoring yourself; a loved one, or the victim themself  after a serious head injury. They may be held accountable for negligence if they neglected to do so or failed to identify the victim’s head injuries.

We hold negligent parties liable in situations of traumatic brain injuries Warrior Car Accident Lawyers, whether it was a negligent motorist, medical practitioner, or insurance provider. We have a team of TBI lawyers on staff that are up to speed on the most recent discoveries in the ever-changing area of brain damage and can guide you to the finest testing, therapies, and specialists.

We promise that your insurance company will pay you the greatest settlement possible, paying you for any losses incurred as a consequence of carelessness. We will not be paid until we are successful in recovering money for our client.

Free Consultation


You May Also Like…