The function of the skull is to support and protect the brain. Because it is hard and durable, the skull is usually very effective at this. However, like other bones, it is susceptible to fracture with sufficient application of force.
A possible skull fracture should receive medical treatment as soon as possible for diagnosis and evaluation for brain damage. However, not all skull fractures are equally serious or require the same treatment.
Basilar skull fracture
A fracture at the base of the skull may occur because of a backwards fall. A blow to the back of the head during an auto collision or other accident may also result in a basilar skull fracture. This is the most serious type of fracture that typically requires treatment and close observation in the hospital. Clear fluid drainage from the nose and mouth or bruising behind the ear or around the eyes are symptoms of basilar skull fracture requiring immediate evaluation.
Depressed skull fracture
A depressed skull fracture occurs when part of the bone actually sinks inward. This type of injury may or may not involve a scalp laceration. Bleeding from any type of skull fracture can put pressure on the brain, but with a depressed skull fracture, pressure may also come from the fragments of bone themselves. Depending on the severity of the fracture, correcting the deformity that results from a depressed skull fracture may require surgery.
There are two other types of skull fractures: Diastatic fractures, which typically affect young children whose skulls have not fused, and linear fractures, which are the most common type and usually do not require intervention.