Skip to main content
Go to homepage

Print Page

A to Z: Fracture, Skull

A skull fracture (FRAK-chur) is a break or crack in one of the bones of the skull, also called the cranium (CRAY-nee-um).

More to Know

The human skull is made up of two parts and 22 small bones. The cranium, the part of the skull above and behind the face, includes eight bones that come together at special joints called sutures (SOO-churs). These are the bones that crack or break when someone has a skull fracture. A severe impact or hit to the skull — such as from a car accident or fall — can cause skull fractures and may also injure the brain.

There are four main types of skull fractures:

  1. With linear skull fractures, which are the most common, there is a break in the bone but the bone doesn't move.
  2. With depressed skull fractures, part of the bone breaks and is pushed inward toward the brain.
  3. A diastatic (dy-uh-STAT-ik) skull fracture is a breakage at the sutures, the joints between the bones of the head, that widens the space between the sutures.
  4. Basilar (BAZ-uh-ler) skull fractures, the most severe type, involve breaks in the bones near the base of the skull, including the ones around the ears, eyes, and nasal cavity.

Skull fractures can cause bleeding, black eyes, and nausea. These symptoms may progress to loss of consciousness, brain injury, seizures, convulsions, and coma. Severe skull fractures can be life-threatening medical emergencies, but most linear skull fractures don't require treatment. Depressed skull fractures are sometimes treated with surgery to repair the damaged part of the bone and prevent further injury to the brain.

Children with basilar skull fractures require extra care because more problems — such as hearing loss, decreased sense of smell, and facial weakness — can follow a fracture.

Keep in Mind

Much of the time, skull fractures are simple linear fractures that don't need treatment. But anyone who has had a head injury should be observed for a few days in case complications develop. A doctor should always be notified if someone has headaches, dizziness, confusion, or any symptoms of a skull fracture following a blow or injury to the skull.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.

What next?

Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
There are 10 nurses in the picture.

And we have many more pediatric primary care providers in Northeast Ohio. You can meet some of them here.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The five differences are:
– Phone color
– Coat pocket
– Stethoscope earpiece color
– Stethoscope bell dot
– Clipboard paper color

Need help finding a doctor, choosing a location or getting a general question about Akron Children's answered? Call us or fill out the form and we'll help in any way we can.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The two matching doctors are 9 and 14.

With virtual visits, you can see our pediatric experts from the comfort of home or wherever you are.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The correct path:
The Correct Path
We offer many ways to get pediatric care all over Northeast Ohio. Use this page to find the right kind of care and the most convenient location for you.