The cranial bone, more commonly known as the skull, has the important duty of protecting our brain from trauma. For the most part it does a relatively good job, but in many cases it can suffer injury due to trauma in the case of skull fractures, which can occur any time the head is impacted with enough force to break the skull. Skull fracture symptoms include bleeding from the nose and ears, facial bruising, and pain and tenderness from the point of impact.
Types of Skull Fractures
When it comes to skull fractures, there are four major types, each with different symptoms associated with them. With linear fractures for example, one of the bones in the skull does break but doesn’t move, leading to minimal harm to the child. In fact, after observing a child with a linear skull fracture in the hospital or emergency room briefly, these children can usually return to their normal lives in just a few days without the need for any interventions. In much younger children and infants it may be more common to see diastatic skull fractures, which occur along the suture lines in the skull that show where the skull bones will eventually fuse as the child grows. In such a fracture, these normal suture lines will be widened until they heal.
However, there are much more serious skull fractures as well. Depressed skull fractures, for instance, can occur either with a cut on the scalp or without, as these fractures are caused by the skull sinking in from outside trauma. In the event that the underside of the skull is pressing into the brain, someone suffering from depressed skull fracture will need surgery to aid in correcting the issue.
Meanwhile, another more serious type of skull fracture known as a basilar skull fracture occurs when a bone at the base of the skull breaks. When basilar fractures occur in children, it usually presents itself by causing bruising around a child’s eyes and also behind their ear. Clear fluid may be draining from their ears or nose if the fracture slightly tore the covering of the brain.
Treatment of Skull Fractures
Treating skull fractures can be tricky business, as there are a number of variables that are in play including the severity of the fracture, the age, relative health, and medical history of the patient, and whether or not there were any brain injuries that resulted from the trauma that caused the skull fracture in the first place. In many cases, if the fracture is minor enough, the best treatment may be in the form of simple pain medication as the skull itself heals the fracture on its own. This is quite common in basilar fractures and linear fractures for the most part, though basilar fractures could necessitate surgical correction if the fluid leakage from the ears and nose doesn’t abate or is excessive.
In most cases, surgery is often reserved for depressed fractures, especially when the fracture is deep enough to put pressure on the brain or, if in the case of basilar fractures, fluid leakage is occurring. Of course, the best way to treat skull fractures is to prevent them from occurring in the first place. Preventative measures such as wearing a helmet when engaging in physical activities like contact sports, mountain climbing, bike riding, or kayaking can help stave off a painful and possibly debilitating head injury that could lead to a skull fracture.