Children and adolescents with minor blunt head trauma and isolated skull fractures are often admitted to the hospital. The objective of this study was to describe the injury circumstances and frequency of clinically important neurologic complications among children with minor blunt head trauma and isolated linear skull fractures.
This study was a planned secondary analysis of a large prospective cohort study in children <18 years old with blunt head trauma. Data were collected in 25 emergency departments. We analyzed patients with Glasgow Coma Scale scores of 14 or 15 and isolated linear skull fractures. We ascertained acute neurologic outcomes through clinical information collected during admission or via telephone or mail at least 1 week after the emergency department visit.
In the parent study, we enrolled 43 904 children (11 035 [25%] <2 years old). Of those with imaging studies, 350 had isolated linear skull fractures. Falls were the most common injury mechanism, accounting for 70% (81% for ages <2 years old). Of 201 hospitalized children, 42 had computed tomography or MRI repeated; 5 had new findings but none required neurosurgical intervention. Of 149 patients discharged from the hospital, 20 had repeated imaging, and none had new findings.
Children with minor blunt head trauma and isolated linear skull fractures are at very low risk of evolving other traumatic findings noted in subsequent imaging studies or requiring neurosurgical intervention. Hospital admission for neurologically normal children with isolated linear skull fractures after minor blunt head trauma for monitoring is typically unnecessary.