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  • Updated 08.21.2023
  • Released 06.07.1999
  • Expires For CME 08.21.2026

Traumatic cranial neuropathy



Traumatic cranial neuropathies are often seen with fractures involving the skull base. They most frequently involve the olfactory and optic nerves at the anterior skull base or the seventh and eighth cranial nerves in the temporal bone. In this update, the author discusses current treatment and outcomes for traumatic optic nerve injury.

Historical note and terminology

Samuel Thomas Soemmerring, a German medical student, established the present classification of cranial nerves in 12 numbered pairs two centuries ago. The basis of the classification was the different foramina in the base of the skull through which the nerves exit the cranial cavity (82). The first description of traumatic cranial nerve injury appears in the Edwin Smith Papyrus and describes a patient with a facial droop following head injury. The droop was on the same side as the fracture and was probably due to a contre-coup injury (24).

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