Head injury refers to trauma to the head. This may or may not include injury to the brain. However, the terms traumatic brain injury and head injury are often used interchangeably in the medical literature.
The incidence (number of new cases) of head injury is 300 per 100,000 per year (0.3% of the population), with a mortality of 25 per 100,000 in North America and 9 per 100,000 in Britain. Head trauma is a common cause of childhood hospitalization.
Head injuries include both injuries to the brain and those to other parts of the head, such as the scalp and skull.
Head injuries may be closed or open. A closed (non-missile) head injury is one in which the skull is not broken. A penetrating head injury occurs when an object pierces the skull and breaches the dura mater. Brain injuries may be diffuse, occurring over a wide area, or focal, located in a small, specific area.
A head injury may cause a minor headache skull fracture, which may or may not be associated with injury to the brain. Some patients may have linear or depressed skull fractures.
If intracranial hemorrhage occurs, a hematoma within the skull can put pressure on the brain. Types of intracranial hemorrage include subdural, subarachnoid, extradural, and intraparenchymal hematoma. Craniotomy surgeries are used in these cases to lessen the pressure by draining off blood.
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