Skull fractures (summary)

Last revised by Dalia Ibrahim on 14 Oct 2018
This is a basic article for medical students and other non-radiologists

Skull fractures usually occur following significant head injury and may herald underlying neurological pathology.

Reference article

This is a summary article; read more in our article on skull fractures.

  • anatomy
  • epidemiology
    • accurate incidence and prevalence unknown
    • 1.3 million traumatic brain injuries per year in the USA 1
      • estimated that 1/3 will have a skull fracture
  • presentation
  • pathophysiology
  • treatment
    • head injury patients should be treated following ATLS (or similar)
    • treatment depends on the type of fracture
      • linear: no specific treatment
      • depressed: may require neurosurgical intervention to prevent further brain injury
      • base of skull fracture: may be unstable and require expert
  • role of imaging
    • diagnosis of fracture
      • skull x-rays are still performed but are being used less and less
      • CT head is the first line investigation
    • assessment for intracranial injury, e.g. hemorrhage
    • assessment of fracture to guide risk stratification and management
  • radiographic features

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