Maxillofacial fractures are traumatic bone injuries to the facial region. Maxillofacial injuries relate to any injury on the upper, middle and lower portion of the face that result in breaking of bones in these facial regions.
Maxillofacial fractures can involve the bones of the nose, cheekbones, orbital (eye socket) bones as well as the upper and lower jaw bones. Most maxillofacial fractures are results of severe auto accidents or industrial accidents as well as sports injuries and fights. At times, the weakened bones of the facial region may also crack and break after a dental treatment or due to a medical condition.
What are the signs and symptoms of Maxillofacial Fractures?
The exact symptoms of maxillofacial fractures mainly depend on the specific bone which is broken in the facial region. The common symptoms of maxillofacial fractures anywhere on the face are:
In case of a broken nose or nasal fracture, the symptoms seen are:
- Difficulty in breathing
- Bruising around the nose
In case of a fracture of the forehead or frontal bone, the symptoms seen are:
- Inverted (pushed in) appearance of the injured forehead
- Injuries to eyes
- Pain around sinuses
In case the cheek bones or upper jaw suffer fracture, the symptoms seen are:
- Flatness of cheek bones
- Change in sensation below the eye on the injured side of the face
- Vision problems
- Painful movement of jaw bones
In case the eye socket (orbital) bones experience a fracture, then the symptoms seen are:
- Blackened eye
- Redness/bleeding in white of the eye
- Reduced/blurry vision
- Numb feeling in upper lip/teeth, cheek, eyelids or forehead
- Swollen forehead or cheek
In case of a broken jaw bone, the symptoms seen are:
- Pain bruising/tenderness/swelling on the jaw or under the ear
- Inability to align both sets of teeth (jaws) normally
- Bruising underneath the tongue
- Missing/loosened teeth
- Numbed chin or lower lip
In case the fracture is in the middle facial region, the symptoms are:
- Deformity of injured region
In case any of these symptoms are experienced it is advisable to seek a professional consultation with a physician or an orthopedic specialist immediately. At times, certain maxillofacial fractures can cause obstruction in the breathing passage and become fatal quickly. Several maxillofacial fractures can also affect vision and the central nervous system as well.
How are the Maxillofacial Fractures diagnosed?
Maxillofacial fractures are almost always detected through a physical examination. The doctor will advise other set of tests to determine the exact location, type and extent of the injury to determine the best-suited treatment for each.
The doctor mostly uses diagnostic imaging tests, mainly x-ray tests to determine the details of the maxillofacial fracture. This test is effective in showing the cracks or breaks in the bones of the maxillofacial region clearly.
How are Maxillofacial Fractures treated?
There are several methods for effectively treating maxillofacial fractures. The exact types of treatment will mainly depend on the type, exact location and extent of the fracture in the facial region.
Surgical treatment is the most ideal treatment for maxillofacial fractures. The main aim of the surgery is to restore normal shape and appearance to the face and ensure that the jaw lines are aligned normally. The method of approach (making the incision) differs from surgeon to surgeon according to their individual training and experience.
Once the surgeon has restored the normal appearance of the facial region by correcting the deformity of the facial bones, the surgeon will keep the corrected bones stabilized using surgical metal plates and screws. Once the desired corrections are completed the surgeon will close the incisions using fine sutures.
Maxillofacial fractures need to be treated quickly and efficiently in order to avoid life-threatening complications from arising and to restore the normal appearance of the face.