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Alex Trebek of 'Jeopardy!' is recovering from brain surgery — here's what you need to know about the condition that put him in the hospital

INSIDER logoINSIDER 1/5/2018 (Emily DiNuzzo)
Alex Trebek wearing a suit and tie: alex trebek jeopardy © Provided by Business Insider Inc alex trebek jeopardy

In December 2017  "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek had surgery to remove blood clots from his brain that formed after a fall in October. The 77-year-old shared a video on the show's website revealing he was diagnosed with a subdural hematoma and had a successful surgery one day after his diagnosis. 

"After two days in the hospital, I came home to start recovery," Trebek said in the video. "The prognosis is excellent, and I expect to be back in the studio taping more 'Jeopardy!' programs very, very soon."

Alex underwent surgery in late December, but he’s already up and around. We’ll let him tell you the news...

Trebek referenced his subdural hematoma as a "slight medical problem," but it's more complicated than that. Here's what you need to know about the condition. 

A subdural hematoma is when a pool of blood forms on your brain's surface beneath the skull.

A subdural hematoma occurs when "a vein ruptures between your skull and your brain's surface," according to Healthline. These tiny veins stretch and tear allowing blood to collect. In Trebek's case, a clot formed on the surface of the brain.

The most common cause is a severe head injury from a fall or car crash causing bleeding to fill the brain quickly and compress brain tissue, according to MedlinePlus. It can also occur when there is a less-severe injury where the bleeding is slower — usually resulting in the condition going unnoticed for weeks. This typically happens with older adults who suffer from falls, but infants and young children could also be at risk.  

Alex Trebek wearing a suit and tie © Provided by Business Insider Inc alex trebek

It can cause a number of different symptoms — and the only way to treat it is in an operating room. 

Depending on the size and location of the pressure on the brain, MedicineNet noted that a subdural hematoma could cause slurred speech, nausea, vomiting, seizures, and confusion. Healthline reports that the seizures could still occur even after surgery to remove it.

In fact, a craniotomy — temporary removal of part of the skull — is typically performed to remove or treat the clot or hematoma. Some people suffering from chronic subdural hematomas have doctors drain the blood from it through a burr hole, according to John Hopkins Medicine. 

Recovery from either procedure depends on the type of injury, where it was located on the head, and how soon treatment started. Acute subdural hematomas have a worse track record than chronic ones with a high rate of death and brain injury, MedlinePlus reports.

Trebek, however, is expected to make a full recovery according to his video. The show's filming schedule will reportedly remain intact except for the college championship episode, which will now air in April.

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