Evaluation of the necessity of hospitalization in children with an isolated linear skull fracture (ISF)

Adi Reuveni-Salzman, Guy Rosenthal, Oded Poznanski, Yigal Shoshan, Mony Benifla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Objective: The prevalence of skull fractures after mild head trauma is 2 % in children of all ages and 11 % in children younger than 2 years. The current standard management for a child diagnosed with an isolated skull fracture (ISF), in our institute, is hospitalization for a 24-h observation period. Based on data from the literature, less than 1 % of all minor head injuries require neurosurgical intervention. The main objective of this study was to evaluate the risk of neurological deterioration of ISF cases, in order to assess the need for hospitalization. Methods: We reviewed the medical charts of 222 children who were hospitalized from 2006 to 2012 with ISF and Glascow Coma Scale—15 at the time of arrival. We collected data regarding demographic characteristics, mechanism of injury, fracture location, clinical symptoms and signs, need for hospitalization, and need for repeated imaging. Data was collected at three time points: at presentation to the emergency room, during hospitalization, and 1 month after admission, when the patients’ parents were asked about the course of the month following discharge. Results: None of the 222 children included in the study needed neurosurgical intervention. All were asymptomatic 1 month after the injury. Two children underwent repeated head CT due to persistence or worsening of symptoms; these CT scans did not reveal any new findings and did not lead to any intervention whatsoever. Conclusion: Children arriving at the emergency room with a minor head injury and isolated skull fracture on imaging studies may be considered for discharge after a short period of observation. Discharge should be considered in these cases provided the child has a reliable social environment and responsible caregivers who are able to return to the hospital if necessary. Hospital admission should be reserved for children with neurologic deficits, persistent symptoms, suspected child abuse, or when the parent is unreliable or is unable to return to the hospital if necessary. Reducing unnecessary hospitalizations can prevent emotional stress, in addition to saving costs for the child’s family and the health care system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1669-1674
Number of pages6
JournalChild's Nervous System
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Hospitalization
  • Medical costs
  • Pediatric neurosurgery
  • Skull fracture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Clinical Neurology


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