One of the less common types of skull fractures is a basilar skull fracture, which involves a fracture in the posterior skull base or the anterior skull base. A breakage in the posterior skull base may involve a fracture of the occipital bone, temporal bone, or the sphenoid bone. A break in the anterior skull base may involve breakage of the sphenoid bone or ethmoid bone. Only about 4% of severe head injuries involve a basilar skull fracture.
Causes of Basilar Skull Fractures
Auto accidents are a frequent cause of basilar skull fractures. Other causes include assaults and violence, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, or any other direct blow to the head. Basilar skull fractures are famously associated with auto racing accidents (Basilar skull fractures were contributing injuries in the deaths of Nascar drivers Dale Earnhardt Sr., Adam Petty, Tony Roper, Kenny Irwin, Jr., Neil Bonnett, John Nemechek, J. D. McDuffie, Blaise Alexander, Richie Evans, and Clifford Allison.) Depending on the injury, a plain skull computed tomography (CT) scan might not be sensitive enough to detect fractures; a multiple-plane CT and MRI may be needed to diagnose a fracture.
Risk of Cerebral Spinal Fluid Leakage and Meningitis
Because basilar skull fractures can cause tears in the dura and supporting membranes holding the brain, which may cause cerebral spinal fluid to leak from the nose and ears, basilar skull fractures have an increased risk of bacterial meningitis, an infection that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. This is sometimes called CSF rhinorrea. The complications of CSF rhinorrhea can be catastrophic. Bacterial meningitis occurs in about 25-50% of untreated cases. Doctors use aggressive antibiotics and corticosteroids to reduce brain swelling. If untreated bacterial meningitis can cause permanent brain damage or death.
Risk of Vision Problems Associated with Basilar Skull Fractures
About 1% to 10% of basilar skull fracture victims experience ocular nerve entrapment from the ocular nerve being pressed by the broken skull bones. The outcomes of ocular nerve entrapment can vary, but may include edema and decreased vision.
Basilar Skull Fracture Lawsuits and Settlements
Victims of basilar skull fractures and other traumatic brain injuries may suffer serious affects of their injuries, including lifelong medical care needs. If victims were injured in an accident caused by the negligence of another, they may be entitled to compensation for their injuries in a personal injury lawsuit. Compensation may be substantial, and include damages for medical expenses, lost earnings, and pain and suffering. If you or a member of your family has been injured, contact personal injury attorney experienced in skull fracture and brain injury cases - most provide a free consultation.
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