Facial trauma



Facial trauma, also called maxillofacial trauma, is any physical trauma to the face. Facial trauma can involve soft tissue injuries such as burns, lacerations and bruises, or fractures of the facial bones such as nasal fractures and fractures of the jaw, as well as trauma such as eye injuries. Symptoms are specific to the type of injury; for example, fractures may involve pain, swelling, loss of function, or changes in the shape of facial structures

Facial injuries have the potential to cause disfigurement and loss of function; for example, blindness or difficulty moving the jaw can result. Although it is seldom life-threatening, facial trauma can also be deadly, because it can cause severe bleeding or interference with the airway; thus a primary concern in treatment is ensuring that the airway is open and not threatened so that the patient can breathe. Depending on the type of facial injury, treatment may include bandaging and suturing of open wounds, administration of ice, antibiotics and pain killers, moving bones back into place, and surgery. When fractures are suspected, radiography is used for diagnosis. Treatment may also be necessary for other injuries such as traumatic brain injury, which commonly accompany severe facial trauma.

In developed countries, the leading cause of facial trauma used to be motor vehicle accidents, but this mechanism has been replaced by interpersonal violence; however auto accidents still predominate as the cause in developing countries and are still a major cause elsewhere. Thus prevention efforts include awareness campaigns to educate the public about safety measures such as seat belts and motorcycle helmets, and laws to prevent drunk and unsafe driving. Other causes of facial trauma include falls, industrial accidents, and sports injuries.

Signs and symptopms

Fractures of facial bones, like other fractures, may be associated with pain, bruising, and swelling of the surrounding tissues (such symptoms can occur in the absence of fractures as well). Fractures of the nose, base of the skull, or maxilla may be associated with profuse nosebleeds. Nasal fractures may be associated with deformity of the nose, as well as swelling and bruising.Deformity in the face, for example a sunken cheekbone or teeth which do not align properly, suggests the presence of fractures. Asymmetry can suggest facial fractures or damage to nerves.People with mandibular fractures often have pain and difficulty opening their mouths and may have numbness in the lip and chin.With Le Fort fractures, the midface may move relative to the rest of the face or skull.


Injury mechanisms such as falls, assaults, sports injuries, and vehicle crashes are common causes of facial trauma in children as well as adults.Blunt assaults, blows from fists or objects, are a common cause of facial injury.Facial trauma can also result from wartime injuries such as gunshots and blasts. Animal attacks and work-related injuries such as industrial accidents are other causes. Vehicular trauma is one of the leading causes of facial injuries. Trauma commonly occurs when the face strikes a part of the vehicle's interior, such as the steering wheel In addition, airbags can cause corneal abrasions and lacerations (cuts) to the face when they deploy.


Radiography, imaging of tissues using X-rays, is used to rule out facial fractures. Angiography (X-rays taken of the inside of blood vessels) can be used to locate the source of bleeding. However the complex bones and tissues of the face can make it difficult to interpret plain radiographs; CT scanning is better for detecting fractures and examining soft tissues, and is often needed to determine whether surgery is necessary, but it is more expensive and difficult to obtain. CT scanning is usually considered to be more definitive and better at detecting facial injuries than X-ray. CT scanning is especially likely to be used in people with multiple injuries who need CT scans to assess for other injuries anyway

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John George

Journal of Trauma and Orthopedic Nursing

Email: editor.jton@emedsci.com

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