Did you know that a depressed skull fracture is one of the most serious types of head injuries? This type of fracture can occur when there is a direct impact on the head, such as in a car accident. If you or someone you love has suffered from this injury, it is important to know what to expect and get the best possible treatment. This blog post will discuss the dangers of depressed skull fractures and what you need to do if you experience one.
- What is a depressed skull fracture, and what are the symptoms?
- What are the dangers of having a depressed skull fracture?
- What should you do if you think you have a depressed skull fracture?
- How is a depressed skull fracture treated?
- Are there any long-term effects of having a depressed skull fracture?
What are depressed skull fractures, and what are the symptoms?
Any break in the cranial bone, often known as the skull, is considered a skull fracture. There are several skull fractures, but only one significant cause: a hard enough blow to the head to shatter the bone. They can occur from several traumatic injuries, such as car accidents, falls, or assaults. The fracture may be accompanied by brain damage; however, this is not always the case.
A skull depression fracture is a head injury that may be seen with or without a cut in the scalp. This type of fracture is a type of skull injury in which the depressed area of bone is compressed inward. Unlike a linear skull fracture, part of the skull is sunken in from the trauma. This type of skull fracture may require surgical intervention, depending on the severity, to help correct the deformity.
This type of fracture often causes pressure on the brain cavity or direct injury to the brain. In addition, the bone fragments may damage the dura mater, a relatively tough covering of the brain. This may cause a cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak.
In cases where the skull fracture is open or depressed, the physical examination of the head can easily define the damage. Symptoms can vary depending on the severity and location of the fracture but may include:
- Clear or bloody fluid coming from your nose, ears, or mouth
- mobility issues (loss of movement or balance)
- speech issues (slurring)
- changes in vision
What are the dangers of having a depressed skull fracture?
If you have a depressed skull injury, pieces of the fractured skull bone press inward and damage the brain. These types of fractures are called depressed fractures. Depressed skull fractures may expose the brain to the environment and foreign material, leading to infection or the formation of abscesses (collections of pus) within the brain.
What should you do if you think you have a depressed skull fracture?
As with any head injury, seeking medical attention promptly is strongly advised for most skull fractures.
If you think you have a depressed skull fracture, seek medical attention right away. Do not move the person if you suspect a spinal cord injury. If the skull fracture is open and bleeding, apply pressure to the wound to stop the bleeding.
Learning to recognize a serious head injury and give basic first aid can save someone’s life. For a moderate to severe head injury, call 911 immediately.
Get medical help right away if the person:
- Becomes very sleepy
- Behaves abnormally or has a speech that does not make sense
- Develops a severe headache or stiff neck
- Has a seizure
- Has pupils (the dark central part of the eye) of unequal sizes
- Is unable to move an arm or leg
- Loses consciousness, even briefly
- Vomits more than once
Provide CPR or rescue breathing if unconscious with weak respiration and pulse.
If the patient is unconscious with steady breathing and pulse, consider it as a spinal injury. Do not move the patient; stabilize the head and neck instead while waiting for medical assistance.
Do not touch the head; any additional pressure may complicate their symptoms and aggravate their condition.
How is a depressed skull fracture treated?
A complete medical history and Computed tomography (CT) scans of the brain can identify skull fractures in about two-thirds of head injury patients. Doctors can also request an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to visualize the brain injury clearly. If you are diagnosed with a depressed skull fracture, you will likely need surgery to repair the damage to the bone. Surgery may also be necessary to address any injuries to the brain that have occurred due to the fracture. During a severe brain injury surgery, the surgeon will clean and flush the wound, remove any bone fragments from a compound fracture that may be causing pressure on the brain, and then repair the depressed area of bone.
The criteria for surgical repair of a depressed skull fracture include the following:
- A depression greater than 8 to 10mm (or greater than the thickness of the skull).
- Brain function difficulties related to pressure or injury of the underlying brain.
- Cerebrospinal fluid leakage.
- An open depressed skull fracture or a fracture exposed by a cut in the scalp.
Overall, most head fractures, like basilar skull fractures, heal on their own and don’t need surgery as long as they are mild head injuries (basal fracture) and there aren’t associated injuries to other structures such as the brain. However, in certain circumstances, as described above, there are features about the fracture itself or associated injuries that may require surgery to make sure they heal.
Are there any long-term effects of having a depressed skull fracture?
Unlike basal skull fractures that do not require surgery, There is a risk of long-term complications following surgery for depressed skull fracture. These may include seizures, infection, ongoing headaches, and problems with vision or balance. Depending on the severity of the injury and which parts of the brain were damaged, there may be other long-term effects.
If the head trauma is severe, you may experience short- or long-term physical and mental changes that may require treatment or rehab. Changes could include the loss of motor skills such as speech, vision, hearing, or taste. You may also experience changes in personality or behavior. It is important to follow up with your doctor after surgery and report any problems you are having to be addressed.
Depending on the brain area affected and the severity of the brain damage, those who experience a serious brain injury may lose muscle strength, fine motor skills, speech, vision, hearing, or taste function. Changes in personality or conduct, whether long-term or short-term, may occur. These individuals require long-term medical and rehabilitative care (physical, occupational, or speech therapy).
The extent of the person’s recovery is determined by the type of brain damage and any other medical issues that may exist. It is critical to maximize the individual’s potential at home and in the community. Positive reinforcement will assist the sufferer in building self-esteem and independence.