Background: Children and adolescents with injuries resulting in facial fractures are a population that is potentially at risk for suffering concomitant concussion. Concussion results in a variety of physical symptoms and often affects cognition, emotion, and sleep. These effects can have a significant impact on academics and social functioning. Early recognition of concussion and active management have been shown to improve outcomes. The goal of this study was to describe the occurrence of concussion in patients sustaining facial fractures and to determine whether certain fracture types are associated with concussion.
Methods: We performed a retrospective review of patients aged 0 to 18 years who were evaluated in the emergency department of the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh from 2000 to 2005 with an International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision code indicative of facial fractures. Data included demographics, documentation of concussion, and facial fracture type. Patients with intracranial injury were excluded from the study. Univariate χ2 analysis and logistic regression were performed to determine characteristics associated with concussion.
Results: Facial fracture was diagnosed in 782 patients. Ninety-one patients had an intracranial injury and were excluded, leaving 691 patients for evaluation. The mean age was 11.1 (SD, 4.6) years. Males made up 69.6% of patients, and 80.6% of patients were white. Concussion was diagnosed in 31.7% of patients. Age, sex, and race were not associated with concussion. Univariate analysis demonstrated that skull and orbital fractures were associated with higher rates of concussion, whereas maxillary fractures showed a trend toward higher rates of concussion, and nasal and mandible fractures showed a trend toward lower rates of concussion. Logistic regression analysis demonstrated the odds of having a concussion were higher in those with skull fractures (odds ratio, 2.3; confidence interval, 1.5–3.7).
Conclusions: Nearly one third of pediatric patients with facial fractures in this retrospective series were diagnosed with a concomitant concussion. Our data suggest that a higher index of suspicion for concussion should be maintained for patients with concomitant skull fractures and potentially orbital and maxillary fractures. Given the possibility of a worse outcome with delayed concussion diagnosis, patients with facial fractures may benefit from more active early concussion screening.