Skull and Facial Fracture

(Head Injury; Open Skull Fracture; Closed Skull Fracture; Fracture, Skull and Facial; Maxillary Fracture; Le Fort Fracture; Mandible Fracture; Zygomatic Fracture)

Definition

Skull and facial fractures are broken bones of the head and face. Injury can result in damage to the brain.Types of skull fractures include:
  • Simple—the bone is broken, but skin is intact
  • Linear—the break is in a thin, straight line through the depth of the skull bone
  • Depressed—the bone of the skull is crushed and pushed in toward the brain
  • Comminuted—a complex fracture with bone splintering and tearing of the skin
Facial fractures can occur in any of the face’s bones. They are named for specific areas of the face:
  • Maxillary fractures involve the upper jaw. They are classified as Le Fort I-V fractures based on their specific location on the maxillary bone.
  • Mandible fractures involve the lower jaw.
  • Zygomatic fractures involve the cheekbones.
  • Orbital fractures involve the bones around the eyes
Fractures may either be:
  • Closed—the fracture does not break the skin
  • Open—the fracture breaks through the skin
Both skull and facial fractures may be life-threatening conditions. They require immediate medical treatment.
Fractures in the Zygomatic Arch and Orbit
skull fracture zygo and eye socket
© Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

Skull and/or facial fractures are caused by direct trauma to your head. Trauma can be caused by:
  • Falls
  • Car, motorcycle, or pedestrian accident
  • Blunt force trauma
  • Penetrating trauma
  • Domestic violence, child or elder abuse
  • Sports injury
  • Gunshot

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase the chance of a skull and/or facial fracture include:
  • Children up to 4 years old and advancing age
  • Not wearing a seatbelt
  • Not wearing a bike or motorcycle helmet
  • Occupations with risk of falls from heights
  • Playing sports without proper head protection
  • Health conditions that increase the risk of falls
Specific factors that may also increase a child's risk of a skull fracture include:
  • Previous head injury
  • Wheelchair use
  • Car seat related accidents, such as drops, flip-overs, or falls

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