Skull Fracture

What is Skull Fracture

Skull Fracture is a break or crack in one of the bones that make up the skull. Skull fractures range in severity. They are usually more serious if:

  • They happen with an injury to the brain, spine, nerves, or blood vessels.
  • The broken or cracked bone has moved out of place. Bones that have moved can push into the brain or poke at what is near them.
  • The broken or cracked bone is at the back or bottom (base) of the skull.

What are the causes?

This condition is usually caused by a forceful injury to the head. This can happen from:

  • A fall from a high place.
  • An assault.
  • A hard, direct hit (blow) to the head.
  • A car crash.

What are the signs or symptoms?

Symptoms of a skull fracture include:

  • A headache.
  • Sensitivity to noise and light.
  • Clear or bloody liquid leaking from the nose or ears.
  • Blurred vision or double vision.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Bruising around the eyes or behind the ears.
  • Nerve weakness in the face.
  • Difficulty with hearing or smelling.
  • Confusion.
  • Weakness or numbness in one side or one area of the body.

How is this diagnosed?

This condition is diagnosed with a physical exam and imaging tests, such as:

  • X-rays.
  • CT scan.
  • MRI.

How is this treated?

Most skull fractures heal without treatment. Others require surgery to correct the position of any bones that have moved. Surgery may also be required to correct injuries to other areas of the head or spine. Medicine may be given for symptoms like headaches or nausea.

Follow these instructions at home:

  • Do not drink alcoholic beverages until your health care provider says it is okay.
  • Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your health care provider.
  • Keep all follow-up visits as told by your health care provider. This is important.

Contact a health care provider if:

  • You feel confused.
  • You have ongoing (persistent) headaches that are not relieved by medicines.
  • Your symptoms do not go away as expected.

Get help right away if:

  • You feel nauseous.
  • You keep vomiting.
  • You have convulsions or seizures.
  • You are drowsy or have problems waking up.
  • You lose consciousness.
  • Your eyes move back and forth rapidly (nystagmus).
  • You suddenly develop a severe headache.
  • You have a headache and it suddenly worsens.
  • Your arms or legs do not move the way they should.
  • The pupil of your eye changes size much more than it normally does.
  • You have clear or bloody liquid coming from your nose or ears.

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