A COMPREHENSIVE ANALYSIS OF CRANIOFACIAL TRAUMA

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Abstract

A review of the literature identified a need for a prospective study of the complete range of craniofacial trauma. The aims of this study were to determine the incidence, etiology, and mechanisms of craniofacial and associated injuries, enabling a greater understanding of their range and magnitude. Nine hundred fifty consecutive patients seen at an urban university hospital with any degree of craniofacial trauma were prospectively investigated. Craniofacial trauma was found to be very common at all ages. The causes were directly related to age, sex, and alcohol consumption, and determine the type and severity of injury. The commonest cause of soft-tissue injury was falls, whereas that of fractures was interpersonal violence. Falls accounted for most of the injuries in children and the elderly, whereas interpersonal violence was mainly responsible for those occurring in patients aged 15 to 50 years. Interpersonal violence mostly involved young male adults: fights occurring mainly between strangers who had consumed excessive amounts of alcohol. Women were usually assaulted by assailants known to them, their partners. Pedestrians showed a propensity to sustain cranial fractures, whereas motor vehicle occupants tended to sustain midfacial fractures and bicyclists mandibular fractures. Pedestrians incurred the severest injuries of all road users, and a significant proportion of road user collisions involved bicyclists. Sports were responsible for a significant proportion of craniofacial injuries in youths and young adults. Craniofacial soft-tissue injuries overall occurred most frequently on the forehead, nose, lips, and chin, and a method for their classification is proposed. The commonest craniofacial fracture was that of the nasal bones (45%), followed by cranial bones (24%), mandible (13%), zygoma (13%), orbital blow-out (3%), and maxilla (2%). The incidence of craniofacial trauma can be greatly reduced by improvements in interior home design, school education in alcohol abuse and handling potentially hostile situations (especially for men), improvement in automotive safety devices and compliance by motor vehicle occupants, and utilization of full-face helmets by bicyclists and motorcyclists.

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