Base of Skull [Explained]

In today’s micro-lecture, Australian Paramedical College Hon. Snr. Lecturer Sam Willis talks about the base of skull which is a collection of bones that hold the brain in place.

Welcome to this micro-lecture on the base of skull. Now the base of skull is a collection of bones that hold the brain in place. It’s a really important topic to be discussing because when you guys arrive at the scene of trauma, whether it’s minor or major, you do need to consider whether or not there’s an injury to the base of skull.

Now, there are some great images online that will show you the different types of the base of skull fracture, the consequences of a base of skull fracture, the signs and symptoms as well as the structure of the base of skull. We’re going to talk a little bit about the base of skull in terms of its structure and its makeup and its location in relation to the brain.

This is the first image I want to show you guys. Now here you can see the brain when it’s taken out of its cranial vault, and notice how you got a series of bones. Now it’s generally speaking made up of a set of different bones. Let’s go to another image that I found. It’s a really good image that shows you a really detailed picture. You can take your time and just take a look at this image.

You notice you’ve got the frontal bone at the front. You got the occipital bone, the parietal bone. These are bones that you will have already learned through your studies. To make the base of skull dead easy, what you need to consider is that for the base of skull, there’s an anterior fossa, anterior meaning at the front. The opposite is the posterior fossa, meaning at the back.

You got the middle fossa and the central skull base. There are only really four parts to the actual base of skull. Now of course when you look at the individual bones and the individual structures, yes, it becomes pretty complex. You’ve got the olfactory foramina. That’s to do with the sense of smell. The cranial nerves, number one, which is the olfactory nerve will actually be protruding through there.

You’ve got the optic canal. Again, cranial nerve and you’ve got all these different spaces and structures within the base of skull but number one is the base of skull keeps the brain inside the cranial vault. Number two, its made up of four main types of bone and that’s this one here. Anterior fossa, central skull base, middle fossa, posterior fossa. Even gives you a percentage on this image here. If you want to look a little bit more detail, you can see how there are openings which allow the cranial nerves and other structures to exit through them.

When we look at the base of skull fracture, there are certain signs and symptoms. In other words, imagine that there’s been a major insult to the brain, whether it’s a hit on the of the head with a baseball bat or you’ve been hit at high speed from a car, or you’ve fallen from a height. Certain signs and symptoms exist one of them being, notice how you’ve got this cerebrospinal fluid that cushions the brain. Sometimes you’ll find that cerebral spinal fluid leaks from the ears or from the nose and that’s one of the biggest signs of symptoms.

Other late signs and symptoms include what we call raccoon’s eyes or bruising. Ecchymosis, bruising behind the ears. That’s really a short lecture on the base of skull.

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