Yield of skeletal surveys in children ≤ 18 months of age presenting with isolated skull fractures

J Pediatr. 2013 Jan;162(1):86-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2012.06.038. Epub 2012 Jul 25.


Objective: To measure the yield of a skeletal survey in children ≤ 18 months old presenting with isolated skull fractures without significant intracranial injury.

Study design: A retrospective chart review was conducted on all children ≤ 18 months old presenting with an isolated skull fracture not associated with a motor vehicle crash or shopping cart fall between January 1, 2004 and December 31, 2010. An institutional protocol requires a skeletal survey and social work consult on all such children. We analyzed the association of mechanism of injury, type of skull fracture, and presence of "red flags" with a positive skeletal survey using χ(2) and Fisher exact tests.

Results: Of 175 eligible patients, 150 (86%) underwent a skeletal survey. Of the 9 patients (6%) who had another fracture in addition to the presenting one, only 1 child was older than 6 months. Eight patients with additional fractures had a simple skull fracture (not complex) and 7 patients with other fractures had at least 1 red flag. Regarding skull fractures, the majority of long falls (81%) resulted in a simple skull fracture.

Conclusion: The skeletal survey in patients with isolated skull fractures revealed additional fractures in 6% of patients. Thus, a skeletal survey may yield clinically and forensically relevant data in such patients. However, it may be possible to restrict the window for obtaining a skeletal survey to younger infants, particularly those who are premobile.

MeSH terms

  • Child Abuse / diagnosis
  • Female
  • Fractures, Bone / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Multiple Trauma / diagnosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Skull Fractures / diagnosis*