[Skull and cervical spine fractures]

Radiologe. 2020 Jul;60(7):601-609. doi: 10.1007/s00117-020-00702-5.
[Article in German]


Background: Injuries of the skull and the cervical spine are common trauma sequelae and prompt diagnosis is of utmost importance to prevent neurologic complications.

Objectives: The different imaging modalities for the diagnosis of skull and cervical spine fractures are presented and discussed in the context of the current literature.

Materials and methods: Common fractures of the skull and cervical spine and their classification systems are described. Indications for imaging are discussed within the context of the literature.

Results: Fractures of the head can affect the cranial vault, the base of the skull, and the petrous bone. Injuries to the dura are associated with an open craniocerebral trauma. Fractures of the cervical spine can be subdivided into fractures of the craniocervical junction and subaxial fractures.

Conclusions: The imaging modality of choice in the acute setting is computed tomography (CT). Skull fractures can be differentiated into open and closed craniocerebral traumas and accompanying intracranial trauma sequelae must be recognized. In the case of petrous bone fractures, attention must always be paid to the middle and inner ear structures. In cervical spine fractures, decisive is whether the fracture is stable or unstable and whether there has been an accompanying injury to the myelon.

Keywords: Classification; Computed tomography; Cranial vault; Skull; Trauma.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cervical Vertebrae
  • Head Injuries, Closed* / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Skull
  • Skull Fractures* / diagnostic imaging
  • Spinal Fractures* / diagnostic imaging
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed