Examination of life-threatening injuries in 431 pediatric facial fractures at a level 1 trauma center

Ian C. Hoppe, Anthony M. Kordahi, Angie M. Paik, Edward S. Lee, Mark S. Granick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Purpose: Pediatric facial fractures represent a challenge in management due to the unique nature of the growing facial skeleton. Oftentimes, more conservative measures are favored to avoid rigid internal fixation and disruption of blood supply to the bone and soft tissues. In addition, the great force required to fracture bones of the facial skeleton often produces concomitant injuries that present a management priority. The purpose of this study was to examine a level 1 trauma center's experience with pediatric facial trauma resulting in fractures of the underlying skeleton with regards to epidemiology and concomitant injuries.

Methods: A retrospective review of all facial fractures at a level 1 trauma center in an urban environment was performed for the years 2000 to 2012. Patients aged 18 years or younger were included. Patient demographics were collected, as well as location of fractures, concomitant injuries, and surgical management strategies. A significance value of 5% was used.

Results: During this period, there were 3147 facial fractures treated at our institution, 353 of which were pediatric patients. Upon further review, 68 patients were excluded because of insufficient data for analysis, leaving 285 patients for review. The mean age of patients was 14.2 years with a male predominance (77.9%). The mechanism of injury was assault in 108 (37.9%), motor vehicle accident in 68 (23.9%), pedestrian struck in 41 (14.4%), fall in 26 (9.1%), sporting accident in 20 (7.0%), and gunshot injury in 16 (5.6%). The mean Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) on arrival to the emergency department was 13.7. The most common fractures were those of the mandible (29.0%), orbit (26.5%), nasal bone (14.4%), zygoma (7.7%), and frontal bone/frontal sinus (7.5%). Intracranial hemorrhage was present in 70 patients (24.6%). A skull fracture was present in 50 patients (17.5%). A long bone fracture was present in 36 patients (12.6%). A pelvic or thoracic fracture was present in 30 patients (10.5%). A cervical spine fracture was present in 10 patients (3.5%), and a lumbar spine fracture was present in 11 patients (3.9%). Fractures of the zygoma, orbit, nasal bone, and frontal sinus/bone were significantly associated with intracranial hemorrhage (P < 0.05). Fractures of the zygoma and orbit were significantly associated with cervical spine injury (P < 0.05). The mean GCS for patients with and without intracranial hemorrhages was 11.0 and 14.6, respectively (P < 0.05). The mean GCS for patients with and without cervical spine fractures was 11.2 and 13.8, respectively (P < 0.05).

Conclusions: Pediatric facial fractures in our center are often caused by interpersonal violence and are frequently accompanied by other more life-threatening injuries. The distribution of fractures parallels previous literature. Midface fractures and a depressed GCS showed a strong correlation with intracranial hemorrhage and cervical spine fracture. A misdiagnosed cervical spine injury or intracranial hemorrhage has disastrous consequences. On the basis of this study, it is the authors' recommendation that any patient sustaining a midface fracture with an abnormal GCS be evaluated for the aforementioned diagnoses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1825-1828
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Craniofacial Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Facial bones/injuries
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Multiple trauma/epidemiology/etiology/mortality
  • Skull fractures/epidemiology/etiology/mortality
  • Violence/statistics & numerical data


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