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Facial Fractures in Children: Unique Patterns of Injury Observed by Computed Tomography

Chapman, Vernon M. MD*†; Fenton, Laura Z. MD*†; Gao, Dexiang PhD; Strain, John D. MD*†

Journal of Computer Assisted Tomography: January-February 2009 - Volume 33 - Issue 1 - p 70-72
doi: 10.1097/RCT.0b013e318169bfdc
Neuroradiology: Original Article

To determine the patterns of facial fractures observed in pediatric patients after acute trauma.

Materials and Methods: The computed tomography studies of 338 patients (63% male, 37% female; 7 months to 18 years of age) performed after acute nonpenetrating facial trauma were retrospectively reviewed to evaluate for facial fractures and associated orbital hematomas or contiguous skull fractures. Fracture patterns were characterized as orbital roof, orbital floor, medial orbital wall, nasal bone, naso-orbital-ethmoid, zygomatic complex, isolated zygomatic arch, Le Fort type (I, II, or III), maxillary sagittal, alveolar ridge, or mandibular. The frequency of the various fracture types was determined. The correlation between fracture type and orbital hematomas or contiguous skull fractures was assessed (Kendall tau rank correlation).

Results: Computed tomography demonstrated facial fractures in 188 (54%) patients. The number and frequency of the fractures observed were as follows: orbital roof, 67 (36%); zygomatic complex, 38 (20%); naso-orbital-ethmoid, 30 (16%); orbital floor, 28 (15%); nasal bone, 25 (13%); mandibular, 24 (13%); medial orbital wall, 16 (9%); maxillary sagittal, 11 (6%); alveolar ridge, 8 (4%); isolated zygomatic arch, 3 (2%); Le Fort type I, 4 (2%); Le Fort type II, 4 (2%); and Le Fort type III, 0 (0%). Fifty children (27%) had multiple fractures. Orbital hematomas were seen in 28 patients (15%), and contiguous skull fractures were seen in 54 patients (29%). There was strong correlation between orbital hematomas and orbital roof fractures (0.62, P < 0.0001), orbital hematomas and naso-orbital-ethmoid fractures (0.18, P = 0.001), contiguous skull and orbital roof fractures (0.57, P < 0.0001), and contiguous skull and naso-orbital-ethmoid fractures (0.39, P < 0.0001).

Conclusions: Fractures of the orbital roof are the most common facial fractures observed in pediatric patients after acute nonpenetrating trauma. Orbital roof and naso-orbital-ethmoid fractures are frequently associated with orbital hematomas and contiguous skull fractures.

From the *Department of Radiology, The Children's Hospital, Denver; †Radiology Imaging Associates, Englewood; and ‡The Children's Hospital Research Institute, Denver, CO.

Received for publication December 14, 2007; accepted January 17, 2008.

Reprints: Vernon M. Chapman, MD, Radiology Imaging Associates, 10131 E Crestridge Lane, Englewood, CO 80111 (e-mail:

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.