UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Pediatrics

Title: Isolated skull fractures in pediatrics

Keywords: skull fracture (PubMed Search)

Posted: 10/18/2013 by Jenny Guyther, MD (Updated: 9/27/2023)
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Pediatric patients with an isolated skull fracture and normal neurological exam have a low risk of neurosurgical intervention and outpatient follow up may be appropriate (assuming no suspicion of abuse and a reliable family).  In a study published in 2011, a retrospective review over a 5 year period at a level 1 trauma center showed that 1 out of 171 admitted patients with isolated skull fractures developed vomiting.  This patient had a follow up CT showing a small extra-axial hematoma that did not require intervention.  58 patients were discharged from the ED within 4 hours.

You can also check out another recent article published in Annals of Emergency Medicine on the same topic this month!


Rollins et al.  Neurologically intact children with an isolated skull fracture may be safely discharged after brief observation.  Journal of Pediatric Surgery.  Volume 26.  Issue 7. 2011.

Mannix et al.   Skull Fractures: Trends in Management in US Pediatric Emergency Departments.  Annals of Emergency Medicine.  Volume 64.  Issue 4.  2013.