Skull Fracture In Children


Skull Fracture In Children (Inpatient Care) Care Guide

  • A skull fracture (FRAK-chur) is also known as a cranial fracture. This occurs when a part of your child's skull (bones of the head covering the brain) is broken. Children have heads that are large in size, as compared to the rest of their bodies. A skull fracture may be caused by an injury or trauma to the head when a child falls from a height. A direct blow during a fight, physical abuse, or a car accident may also cause a skull fracture. Common signs and symptoms may include a bump at the site, cut, bruise, swelling, or deformity on his head. Your child may vomit (throw up), pass out, have a headache or seizure (convulsion), or become dizzy and fussy.

  • An x-ray, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or computerized tomography (CT) scan may be used for diagnosis. He may also need other tests, such as intracranial monitoring, or electroencephalogram (EEG). Treatment may include medicines for the relief of symptoms or surgery if the fracture is bad. A bad skull fracture includes a depression (caving in) of the skull or a large fracture that involves blood vessels. Most skull fractures heal within 3 to 6 months. The younger your child is, the faster the fracture will heal without further problems. With proper treatment, such as medicine and a brace, your child has a greater chance of having a full recovery.


You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child.


Treatment for a skull fracture may cause unwanted side effects. Medicines may cause your child to have nausea (upset stomach), vomiting (throwing up), or stomach ulcers (sores). He may bleed or get an infection if he has surgery. A skull injury may cause bleeding, head deformity, seizures, or infection in the brain. If not treated early, brain damage, paralysis, and even death may occur. Diagnosis and treatment of a skull fracture as soon as it happens is very important. Call your child's caregiver if you have concerns about his fracture, medicines, or care.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that your child may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your child's medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done to your child. Make sure all of your questions are answered.


At first your child may need to rest in bed. Your child's caregiver will tell you when it is OK to get him out of bed. Call your child's caregiver before getting him up for the first time. If he ever feels weak or dizzy, have him sit or lie down right away.

Blood tests:

Your child may need blood tests to give caregivers information about how his body is working. The blood may be taken from your child's arm, hand, finger, foot, heel, or IV.

Emotional support:

Stay with your child for comfort and support as often as possible while he is in the hospital. Ask another family member or someone close to the family to stay with your child when you cannot be there. Bring items from home that will comfort your child, such as a favorite blanket or toy.


is a small tube placed in your child's vein that is used to give him medicine or liquids.


Your child may need one or more of the following:

  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to help prevent or treat an infection caused by bacteria.

  • Anticonvulsant medicine: Anticonvulsants are given to control your child's seizures.

  • Antinausea medicine: This medicine may be given to calm your child's stomach and control vomiting (throwing up).

  • Diuretics: Your child may get diuretic medicine to help decrease swelling in his brain. This may help his brain get better blood flow and avoid further problems.

  • Pain medicine: Your child may need medicine to take away or decrease pain. Know how often your child should get the medicine and how much. Watch for signs of pain in your child. Tell caregivers if his pain continues or gets worse. To prevent falls, stay with your child to help him get out of bed.

  • Anti-tetanus: This is medicine to keep your child from getting tetanus if the fracture also has an open wound. It is given as a shot. Your child should have a tetanus shot if he has not had one in the past 5 to 10 years. Your child's arm can get red, swollen, and sore after getting this shot.

Neurologic signs:

These are also called neuro signs, neuro checks, or neuro status. During a neuro check, caregivers see how your child's pupils react to light. They may check his memory and how easily he wakes up. His hand grasp and balance may also be tested. How your child responds to the neuro checks can tell caregivers if his illness or injury has affected his brain.


Your child may need one or more of the following:

  • Computerized tomography scan: This is also called a CT or CAT scan. A special x-ray machine uses a computer to take pictures of your child's head. It may be used to look at your child's bones, muscles, brain, and blood vessels. Your child may be given dye by mouth or in an IV before the pictures are taken. The dye may help your child's caregiver see the pictures better. People who are allergic to iodine or shellfish (lobster, crab, or shrimp) may be allergic to some dyes. Tell your child's caregiver if he is allergic to shellfish, or has other allergies or medical conditions.

  • Intracranial pressure monitor: A tube is placed through a tiny opening in the skull to check the pressure inside your child's skull.

  • Magnetic resonance imaging scan: This test is also called an MRI. An MRI uses magnetic waves to take pictures of your child's head. During an MRI, pictures are taken of his bones, brain, or blood vessels. He will need to lie still during an MRI. Never enter the MRI room with an oxygen tank, watch, or any other metal objects. This may cause serious injury.

  • X-rays: Your child may need to have x-rays of his skull or spine taken to check for broken bones.

Treatment options:

Your child may need one or more of the following:

  • Devices: Your child may need to wear a brace to keep his neck from moving. This may prevent more problems, such as paralysis, if his spine is also injured.

  • Irrigation and debridement: This is done when there is an open wound on the scalp. This is done to clean and remove objects, dirt, or dead tissues from the fracture area.

  • Surgery: Your child may need surgery to return the bones to their normal position if the fracture is bad. A bad skull fracture includes a depression (caving in) of the skull or a large fracture that involves blood vessels. Surgery may also be needed to correct a deformity or fix damaged tissues underneath the skull. Pins, plates, and screws may be used to hold the bone together. Injury to the brain, spine, nerves, or blood vessels may also be treated with surgery.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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