Craniofacial Trauma in Adolescents: Incidence, Etiology, and Prevention

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Background:The lack of a common agreement on the precise meaning of the term “adolescence” makes it difficult to interpret the literature regarding fractures in this age group.Methods:The records of all patients with craniofacial trauma admitted to the Division of Maxillo-Facial Surgery of the Rome “La Sapienza” University Hospital between February 2001 and August 2004 were reviewed retrospectively. Besides the anatomical site of the fracture, the authors also reviewed in the group of adolescent fractures the cause, complications, and the safety devices employed and their effectiveness.Results:Of 601 patients admitted after facial or craniofacial fractures, 96 were between 11 and 19 (15.97%). The most frequent cause of fracture in this age group was motorcycle crash (39/96), followed by car crash (26/96), sporting accident (15/96), attacks (11/96), microcar crash (2/96), accidental fall (2/96), and firearm trauma (1/96). Only three patients wearing a full-face helmet suffered facial fractures; the most severe fractures with neurosurgical complications occurred in patients without a helmet; the majority of facial fractures occurred in patients wearing an open-face helmet.Conclusions:It is universally agreed that the primary cause of fracture is road collisions and, although car crashes prevail in all other age groups, motorcycle crashes are more frequent in adolescents. It is necessary to emphasize the need for protective devices capable of avoiding not only neurosurgical complications but also maxillofacial fractures (full-face helmet).

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