Background: Patients presenting with traumatic craniomaxillofacial fractures often have occult concomitant injuries. This study was designed to determine whether facial fracture patterns are associated with a particular constellation of concomitant head and neck injuries.
Methods: A retrospective review of 4786 consecutive patients diagnosed with maxillofacial fractures at a dedicated urban trauma center from 1998 to 2005 was conducted; maxillofacial fractures and cervical spine injuries were grouped by dividing the craniomaxillofacial skeleton and cervical spine into thirds. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were used to identify associations between facial fractures and other traumatic injuries.
Results: Among all patients with facial fractures, 461 (9.7 percent) also had cervical spine injuries and 2175 (45.5 percent) had associated head injuries. Fractures of the upper face were associated with increased likelihood of mid lower cervical spine injuries, severe intracranial injuries, and increased mortality rates. Unilateral mandible injuries were associated with an increased likelihood of having upper cervical spine injuries, whereas unilateral midface injuries were associated with basilar skull fractures and several intracranial injuries. Finally, bilateral midface injuries were associated with basilar skull fracture and death.
Conclusions: Craniomaxillofacial fractures are commonly associated with head and cervical spine injuries that involve predictable patterns of force dispersion from the maxillofacial skeleton and transmission to the cranial vault and cervical spine. These results suggest that concomitant injuries should be investigated closely with distinct types of facial fractures.