Basilar skull fractures are serious injuries that can occur when the head is struck, resulting in a break in one or more bones that make up the skull. This injury can cause lasting damage if not treated properly. This blog post will discuss the symptoms, causes, and treatment of basilar skull fractures. We will also provide information on how to prevent these injuries from happening in the first place. To make sure, you can go to Omnicare’s medical clinic in Southbank to get you checked up.
- What is a basilar skull fracture?
- What causes a basilar skull fracture?
- What are the signs and symptoms of a basilar skull fracture?
- How is a basilar skull fracture diagnosed?
- How is a basilar skull fracture treated?
What is a basilar skull fracture?
A basilar skull fracture is a break in one or more bones that make up the base of the skull. Also called basal skull fracture, this injury can cause lasting damage if not treated properly. Basilar skull fractures are serious injuries that can occur when the head is struck. This injury can cause lasting damage if not treated properly. It is easy to say that this is the most serious type of skull fracture.
What causes a basilar skull fracture?
A Basilar Skull Fracture (BSF) can be caused by a direct hit to the head or, more commonly, sudden acceleration or deceleration of the head. This can occur in motor vehicle accidents, falls, or sporting accidents.
Basilar skull fractures can be caused by several things, including:
– A fall from a height
– An automobile accident
– A violent blow to the face
Other less common causes include penetrating injuries (e.g., gunshot wounds) and assaults. Because of the high amount of force required to produce a basilar skull fracture, these types of fractures are more common in young individuals who are more likely to take part in high-risk activities (e.g., rock climbing, skydiving, bungee jumping, etc.)
What are the signs and symptoms of a basilar skull fracture?
Most skull bone fractures can cause a number of signs and symptoms, which can vary depending on the severity of the injury. Some of the most common symptoms include:
– Neck pain
– Pain or ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
– Difficulty speaking or swallowing
– Blurred vision
– Nausea and vomiting
– Loss of smell or taste
Signs and symptoms of basilar skull fractures are related to the close proximity of the skull base to cranial nerves.
Anterior basilar skull fracture
Anterior basilar skull fractures are associated with the “raccoon eyes” sign, referring to consequent bruising around the eyes. Additionally, these fractures can cause CSF to leak out through the ears or nose, resulting in the classic “halo” sign. This sign appears when CSF mixes with blood on an absorbent surface, such as paper or bed sheets, and creates a double ring pattern. Other symptoms of anterior basilar skull fractures include partial or total loss of vision and smell and eye movement defects due to cranial nerve damage.
Middle skull base fracture
Middle skull base fractures are the most common type and mainly affect the temporal bone and inner ear. They are associated with damage to the carotid artery, hearing loss, and loss of balance. These types of fractures (temporal bone fractures) can lead to blood pooling behind the eardrum, causing it to appear purple. Additionally, they can result in bruising behind the ear, known as the Battle sign.
Posterior skull base fracture
Finally, posterior skull base fractures are associated with a cervical spine injury, vertebral artery injury, and damage to the lower cranial nerves. These fractures are less common than the other two but risk damaging the brainstem, which could be fatal.
Patients with basal skull fractures frequently have bruises around their eyes and a bruise behind their ear. They may also have clear fluid draining from their nose or ears due to a tear in part of the brain’s covering. These patients usually require close observation in the hospital with post-op monitoring for posttraumatic skull base fracture or severe traumatic brain injury.
If you or someone you know has suffered a head injury and is experiencing these symptoms, it is essential to seek medical attention immediately. Basilar skull fractures can be challenging to diagnose, so it is vital to see a doctor as soon as possible after the injury occurs.
How is a basilar skull fracture diagnosed?
Basilar skull fractures can be challenging and tricky to diagnose, as the symptoms can be similar to those of other injuries or conditions. A doctor will typically perform a physical examination and ask about the patient’s medical history and symptoms. They may also order imaging tests such as a CT scan or MRI to get a better look at the injury.
Diagnosis of a basilar skull fracture is sometimes suspected by the characteristic clinical findings upon physical examination. Clinical assessment typically uses the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) to evaluate the level of consciousness in a person following a traumatic brain injury. The GCS is a 15-point scale that assesses three responses: eye movement, verbal response, and motor response. Individuals with a GCS of 13 to 15 are considered to have a mild head injury, whereas individuals with severe head injury typically have a GCS of 8 or less.
After initial evaluation, it is crucial to recognize blood or CSF leaking out of the ear or nose and the presence of bruising around the eyes or behind the ears. The doctor can perform a complete neurological evaluation in conscious individuals to identify any cranial nerve injury as soon as possible.
Once the physical examination is complete, a computed tomography (CT) scan is usually performed to identify the exact location of the traumatic skull fractures and the potential risk of complications.
How is a basilar skull fracture treated?
Basilar skull fractures are typically treated with surgery. However, in some cases, nonsurgical treatment may be an option.
If surgery is required, treatment aims to repair the isolated basilar skull fracture and prevent any further damage to the brain (vascular injury). This may involve plates, screws, or other hardware to stabilize the fracture site. In some cases, a piece of the skull may need to be removed to allow the brain to swell.
After surgery, patients will usually remain in the hospital for some time so that the healthcare team and monitor their condition. They will likely need to take pain medication and may require physical therapy or other rehabilitation services.
In some cases, nonsurgical treatment may be an option. This may be the case in patients who are not good candidates for surgery or have a low risk of complications. Nonsurgical treatment typically involves close observation and management of symptoms.
Basilar skull fractures can be serious injuries that require prompt medical attention. If you or someone you know has suffered a head injury, it is essential to seek medical care. Basilar skull fractures can be challenging to diagnose, so it is vital to see a doctor as soon as possible after the injury occurs. With prompt treatment, most patients with this fracture type can recover fully.