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Facial trauma
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Facial trauma

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Maxillofacial injury; Midface trauma; Facial injury; LeFort injuries

Facial trauma is an injury of the face and upper jaw bone (maxilla).

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  • Causes

    Facial injuries can affect upper jaw, lower jaw, cheek, nose, or forehead. They may be caused by blunt force or be the result of a wound.

    Common causes of injury to the face include:

    • Car and motorcycle crashes
    • Wounds
    • Sports injuries
    • Violence
  • Symptoms

    • Changes in feeling over the face
    • Deformed or uneven face or facial bones
    • Difficulty breathing through the nose due to swelling and bleeding
    • Double vision
    • Missing teeth
    • Swelling around the eyes that may cause vision problems
  • Exams and Tests

    The doctor will perform a physical exam, which may show:

    • Bleeding from the nose, eyes, or mouth
    • Nasal blockage
    • Breaks in the skin (lacerations)
    • Bruising around the eyes or widening of the distance between the eyes, which may mean injury to the bones between the eye sockets
    • Changes in vision or the movement of the eyes

    The following may suggest bone fractures:

    • Abnormal feelings on the cheek
    • Irregularities of the face that can be felt by touching
    • Movement of the upper jaw when the head is still

    A CT scan of the head and bones of the face may be done.

  • Treatment

    Surgery is done if the injury prevents normal functioning or causes a major deformity.

    The goal of treatment is to:

    • Control bleeding
    • Create a clear airway
    • Treat the fracture and fix broken bone segments
    • Prevent scars if possible
    • Rule out other injuries

    Treatment should be done as soon as possible if the person is stable and does not have a neck fracture.

  • Outlook (Prognosis)

    Most people do very well with proper treatment. More surgery may be needed in 6 - 12 months to correct changes in appearance.

  • Possible Complications

    Complications may include:

    • Bleeding
    • Uneven face
    • Infection
    • Brain and nervous system problems
    • Numbness or weakness
    • Loss of vision or double vision
  • When to Contact a Medical Professional

    Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if you have a severe injury to your face.

  • Prevention

    Wear seat belts while driving.

    Use protective head gear when doing work or activities that could injure the face.

Related Information

     

References

Mayersak RJ. Facial trauma. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby Elsevier; 2013:chap 42.

Hill JD, Hamilton III GS. Facial trauma. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund LJ, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby Elsevier; 2010:chap 22.

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Review Date: 8/12/2013  

Reviewed By: Ashutosh Kacker, MD, BS, Associate Professor of Otolaryngology, Weill Cornell Medical College, and Associate Attending Otolaryngologist, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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