Prevalence and pattern of basal skull fracture in head injury patients in an academic hospital

Ntjeke S. Mokolane*, Cornelia Minne, Alireza Dehnavi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Basal skull fractures (BSFs) have been reported to be a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the literature, particularly in young male patients. However, there are limited data available on the aetiology, prevalence and patterns of such observed in South Africa. Objectives: To evaluate the prevalence and pattern of BSF in head injury patients referred to Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital, Gauteng, South Africa. Methods: Patients of all ages with head injuries were considered for the study, and those who met the inclusion criteria were scanned using a 128-slice multidetector helical computed tomography (CT) machine after obtaining consent. Data were prospectively obtained over a 6-month period, interpreted on an advanced workstation by two readers and statistically analysed. Results: The prevalence of BSF in this study was found to be 15.2%. The majority of patients (80.5%) were under 40 years old, with a male to female ratio of 3:1. The most common aetiology of BSF was assault, which accounted for 46% of cases. The middle cranial fossa was the most frequently fractured compartment, while the petrous bone was the most commonly fractured bone. There was a statistically significant association between head injury severity and BSF, and between the number of fracture lines and associated signs of BSF (p < 0.001). The sensitivity of clinical signs in predicting BSF was 31%, while specificity was 89.3% (p = 0.004). Conclusion: The prevalence and pattern of BSF found were consistent with data from previously published studies, although, dissimilarly, assault was found to be the most common aetiology in this study.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbera1677
JournalSouth African Journal of Radiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


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