William Henry Battle and Battle's sign: mastoid ecchymosis as an indicator of basilar skull fracture

Historical vignette

R. Shane Tubbs M.S., P.A.-C., Ph.D. 1 , Mohammadali M. Shoja M.D. 2 , Marios Loukas M.D., Ph.D. 3 , W. Jerry Oakes M.D. 1 and Aaron Cohen-Gadol M.D., M.Sc. 2
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  • 1 Division of Neurosurgery, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Alabama;
  • 3 Department of Anatomical Sciences, St. George's University, Grenada, West Indies; and
  • 2 Clarian Neuroscience Institute, Indianapolis Neurosurgical Group, and Indiana University Department of Neurosurgery, Indianapolis, Indiana
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William Henry Battle (1855–1936) practiced medicine in England > 1 century ago and is primarily remembered for his description of ecchymosis over the mastoid, which indicates fracture of the skull base. Although Mr. Battle made many contributions to medicine, almost nothing exists in the literature regarding his life and findings, especially in regard to head injury. The following is a review of Battle's background and his contributions to medicine, specifically his observations associated with basilar skull fractures.

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Contributor Notes

Address correspondence to: R. Shane Tubbs, M.S., P.A.-C., Ph.D., Division of Neurosurgery, Children's Hospital, 1600 7th Avenue South, ACC 400, Birmingham, Alabama 35233. email: rstubbs@uab.edu.
  • 1

    Battle WH: Lectures on some points relating to injuries to the head. Lancet 1:5763, 1890

  • 2

    Battle WH: Three lectures on some points of injuries relating to the head. BMJ 2:410, 1890

  • 3

    Emanuel V: Blames our flour for appendicitis. New York Times August 25 1907

  • 4

    Rao A: William Henry Battle (1855–1936). Trauma 4:125126, 2002

  • 5

    Wallace C: William Henry Battle. Obituary. BMJ 1:341, 1936

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