Since radiating fractures are commonly observed in cases of gunshot trauma and radiate outwards from an entrance or exit defect, cranial vault architecture and buttressing are thought to influence fracture pathways. The current pilot study used computed tomography (CT) scans to analyze the pathways of gunshot radiating fractures by mapping cranial vault thickness.
This study was part of a larger project that focused on gunshot fracture patterns. The study selected 10 skulls with easily observable radiating fractures. Computer software programs Mimics and 3-Matic were used to map cranial vault thickness and measure fracture length. Cranial vault thickness was measured at the origin, termination, and redirection points (where the fracture changed direction) of the fractures, as well as immediately beyond the redirection point. These measurements were used to characterize the vault thickness along the fracture pathways. A Pearson Product correlation test was used to assess the relationship between cranial vault thickness at the recorded points on the fractures and fracture lengths. Correlation results found a moderate negative correlation between thickness at the origin point and fracture length (R=-0.577), associating thicker bone at origin points with shorter radiating fractures. A paired samples T-test was used to compare the redirection point vault thickness to the vault thickness immediately beyond the redirection. T-test results indicated that cranial vault thickness is greater beyond the redirection point than it is at the redirection point (p=0.05), demonstrating that the fracture had redirected to an area of thinner bone. (publisher abstract modified)