Medical News Today: What to do about a dent in the head

A dent in the head may have a variety of causes. It could result from an injury, be genetic, or indicate a medical condition.

Skull fracture

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A dent in the head may be due to a skull fracture.

Skull fractures occur as a result of a blow or impact to the head. Injury to the skull can occur after any direct force, such as a car accident, fall, or physical assault.

An injury to the brain, known as a traumatic brain injury (TBI), can sometimes accompany a skull fracture, but that is not always the case. In the United States, there are about 1.7 million cases of TBI each year.

There are four major types of skull fracture, including:

  • open fracture
  • closed fracture
  • depressed fracture
  • basal fracture

Of the four types, a depressed fracture is the most likely to look like a dent in the head. The dent occurs due to the displacement of the bone toward the brain.

In addition to displaced bone, the symptoms of a skull fracture may include:

  • headaches
  • impaired vision
  • balance problems
  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • confusion

Brain surgery

Certain types of brain surgery may leave a small dent in the skull.

For example, a craniectomy involves removing a piece of the skull bone. This removal might be necessary to reduce pressure on the brain from conditions that cause swelling.

Surgeons often restore the removed portion of the skull once the swelling has gone down, which usually resolves the dent.

Additional side effects following brain surgery vary depending on the reason for the operation.

Congenital skull depression

A congenital skull depression is a dent in the head that is present from birth.

In Western countries, the condition is uncommon, with experts estimating that it occurs in 1 in 10,000 newborn babies.

A congenital skull depression is usually due to trauma to the head during delivery. For example, the use of forceps or a suction device to help deliver the baby may result in trauma.

The main sign of a congenital skull dent is the depression in the bone. However, the trauma may also cause a brain injury in some babies.

When a brain injury occurs, symptoms may include:

  • trouble breathing
  • feeding difficulties
  • seizures


Although uncommon, different types of bone tumor may cause bone deformity and a dent in the head.

According to research in the journal Surgical Neurology International, tumors in the skull represent about 1–4% of all bone tumors.

Even benign tumors, such as fibrous dysplasia and ossifying fibroma, may cause an indentation of the skull.

Symptoms of a skull tumor may include:

  • bone pain
  • swelling
  • bone deformity
  • a painless mass

Gorham’s disease

Gorham’s disease is a condition that involves bone loss and abnormal blood vessel development. The loss of bone can lead to an indentation in the skull.

According to the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center, Gorham’s disease is very rare.

Although it can occur at any age, it is most common in young adults and children.

Gorham’s disease can affect any of the bones in the body. Typically, though, the condition involves the skull, ribs, or pelvis.

Gorham’s disease causes symptoms in the affected area, including:

  • bone pain
  • swelling
  • decreased range of motion
  • generalized weakness

Vitamin A toxicity

Vitamin A is an essential nutrient that is necessary for a healthy immune system. It is also vital for organs, such as the lungs and heart, to function normally. Too much vitamin A can have adverse effects.

Vitamin A toxicity occurs when there is too much vitamin A in the body. It is rarely due to a person eating too many foods high in vitamin A. Instead, it typically occurs as a result of taking an excessively high dosage of vitamin A supplements.

Vitamin A toxicity can cause softening of the bones, including the skull, which can lead to an indentation.

Additional symptoms of vitamin A toxicity include:

  • dizziness
  • a headache
  • nausea

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