Skull fractures occur when one or more bones in the skull are broken. Skull fractures are caused by some kind of head injury. There are different types of skull fractures. An isolated skull fracture may not be a very serious injury, but that there was enough of a blow to cause a skull fracture makes the possibility of brain trauma a serious situation.
In skull fractures, the patient is at risk of having the brain bruised by broken or shattered fragments of the skull. The danger of damaging the blood vessels in your head is also a possibility with skull fractures. Patients with head injuries or skull fractures are at danger of having severe or intracranial hematomas if the fracture was over a major blood vessel. Compound skull fractures, where the skin is broken are also very serious. Many of these situations with skull fractures can limit the blood flow to the brain, possible causing severe complications or death.
Skull fractures can be depressed, comminuted, linear or diastatic. The most common skull fractures are linear skull fractures. Of patients with a severe head injury, 69% of them develop linear skull fractures. The most common causes of linear skull fractures are forces widely distributed causing the area around the skull to fall inward while the area around it buckles outward. In rare cases, linear skull fractures can develop if there is swelling of the brain. Diastatic fractures are linear fractures when the skull bones separate at the sutures of the skull as in young children whole bones in the skull are not fully fused yet. They are often caused by an impact with something wide and hard like a wall.
Comminuted skull fractures occur when the bone in the skull is shattered and broken in many places. These are very serious as they can cause small piece of bone to lacerate the brain. Another serious type of skull fractures is depressed skull fractures. These are actually comminuted fractures but the broken bones in the skull are displaced inward increasing the risk of pressure on the brain because of the damage to the tissues. If the dura mater in the head is torn, the skull fractures are complex depressed fractures that need surgery to remove the bones from the brain.
Basiliar skull fractures occur when the broken bones occur at the base of the skull, which is where they get their name. They are uncommon, only occurring in 4% of head injury patients. They need a lot of force unlike some of the other skull fractures.
As with all skull fractures, they are serious and should receive medical treatment immediately.