Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.


Head Laceration Overview

Another name for Head Laceration is Head Injury with Laceration.

What is a head injury with laceration?
A person with a head injury with has damage to the face, scalp, or skull, caused by an injury. A head injury with a scalp laceration is one of the most common injuries seen in the emergency room. Head injuries can also include injuries to the brain. Common causes of head injuries include falls, automobile accidents, sports injuries, occupational injuries, and assaults. Soft tissue scalp injuries include lacerations, abrasions, and puncture wounds.

What are the symptoms of a head injury with laceration?
Symptoms of a head injury with laceration include headache, scalp swelling, bleeding, scalp tenderness, dizziness, nausea, sleepiness, and fatigue. Symptoms of a serious head injury include repeated vomiting, severe headache, amnesia, confusion, lethargy, loss of consciousness, slurred speech, seizures, and difficulty walking. Worsening redness, swelling, and tenderness around a laceration are signs of a skin infection, called cellulitis.

How does the doctor treat a head injury with laceration?
Treatment for a head injury with laceration includes cold compresses, rest, medications for nausea, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain. An open or bleeding scalp laceration may need to be repaired with sutures. Treatment for a serious head injury may require corticosteroids, anticonvulsants, and surgery. Additional treatment for lacerations may include a tetanus vaccine, antibiotics, and pain medications.

Last Updated: Dec 1, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Head Laceration References
  1. Edwards P, Arango M, Balica L, et al. CRASH trial collaborators. Final results of MRC CRASH, a randomised placebo-controlled trial of intravenous corticosteroid in adults with head injury-outcomes at 6 months. Lancet. 2005 Jun 4-10;365(9475):1957-9. [15936423]
  2. Grappling with traumatic brain injury. Lancet. 2007 Dec 8;370(9603):1879. [18068492]
  3. Lee AC, Ou Y, Fong D. Depressed skull fractures: a pattern of abusive head injury in three older children. Child Abuse Negl. 2003 Nov;27(11):1323-9. [14637305]
  4. McKinley J. New challenges in assessing and managing concussion in sports. Am Fam Physician. 2007 Oct 1;76(7):948-9. [17956064]
  5. Ropper AH, Gorson KC. N Engl J Med. 2007 Jan 11;356(2):166-72. Review. No abstract available. Erratum in: N Engl J Med. 2007 Apr 26;356(17):1794. [17215534]
  6. Smits M, Dippel DW, de Haan GG, Dekker HM, Vos PE, Kool DR, Nederkoorn PJ, Hofman PA, Twijnstra A, Tanghe HL, Hunink MG. External validation of the Canadian CT Head Rule and the New Orleans Criteria for CT scanning in patients with minor head injury. JAMA. 2005 Sep 28;294(12):1519-25. [16189365]
  7. Tender GC, Awasthi D. Risk stratification in mild head injury patients: the head injury predictive index. J La State Med Soc. 2003 Nov-Dec;155(6):338-42. [14750754]
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