Battle sign (base of skull fracture)

Last revised by Daniel J Bell on 3 Mar 2021

Battle sign is an eponymous term given to mastoid ecchymosis (bruising of the scalp overlying the mastoid process) and is strongly suggestive of a base of skull fracture, most commonly a petrous temporal bone fracture

History and etymology

Mr William Henry Battle (1855-1936) was an English surgeon, who popularized mastoid ecchymosis being associated with base of skull fractures in 1890 1. He was, however, not the first to note this association. Sir Prescott G Hewett (1812–1891), an English surgeon, had written a description of this very association previously 2. This represents another example of Stigler's law.

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