Most common causes include a fall, a traffic accident, or an assault.
Skull fractures may be linear or comminuted with multiple fracture lines, may be located on the cranial vault or in the basilar skull, may have a varying degree of depression or elevation, and can be open or closed. Open fractures communicate with the skin through a wound, a sinus, the ear, or the oropharynx.
CT, with thin axial cuts, remains the imaging modality of choice. With basilar skull fractures, 3D reconstructions are useful.
May be associated with other significant injuries, most importantly intracranial hemorrhage.
For isolated skull fractures, treatment is primarily conservative.
Surgical intervention is determined not by the fracture per se but by extent of associated intracranial pathology, cranial nerve deficit, or cerebrospinal fluid leak.
Skull fracture refers to a fracture of one or more bones of the cranial vault or skull base. They are categorized according to the appearance, location, degree of depression, and if they are open or closed. Open fractures communicate with the skin through a wound, a sinus, the ear, or the oropharynx. Skull fractures may be linear or comminuted; comminuted fractures are complex with multiple fracture lines.
History and exam
Professor of Surgery
Division of Trauma and Surgical Intensive Care
LAC+USC Trauma Center
Keck School of Medicine at USC
University of Southern California
DD declares that he has no competing interests.
Associate Professor of Surgery
Division of Trauma, Surgical Critical Care and Burns
University of California San Diego
LK declares that she has no competing interests.
Consultant and Honorary Senior Lecturer in Emergency Medicine
Director of Medical Education
King's College Hospital
TL declares that he has no competing interests.
LSU Emergency Medicine Residency
Louisiana State University
MJH declares that she has no competing interests.
Physician in Chief
R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center
Francis X. Kelly Professor of Trauma Surgery
University of Maryland School of Medicine
TS declares that he has no competing interests.
Use of this content is subject to our disclaimer