Pediatric trauma has been affected by COVID-19, school closures, and stay at home advice. Health seeking behavior has decreased. The aim of this study is to assess trends in the presentation of maxillofacial soft tissue injuries and subsequent management within a regional pediatric hospital.
Retrospective study over a 3-year period (from 2019 to 2021 between the months of January and April). Inclusion of all pediatric patients seen by Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery team.
Between 2019 and 2021, the total number of patients dropped by over half. The average age dropped from 5.9 in 2019 to 3.8 in 2021. Males were more commonly seen. Falls are the most common cause of injuries across 2019 to 2021. Extraoral injuries increased by 21%. Intraoral injuries reduced by 8%. Lip lacerations accounted for most injuries. In 2020, there was 21% reduction in conservative management of injuries. Wound closure under local anesthetic peaked in 2020, by 12%. Wound closure under general anesthetic has increased by 5%, and accounts for nearly a third of all injuries in 2020 and 2021.
Patients are becoming younger and more likely to be male. Conservative management is most common but closure under local anesthetic and general anesthetic has increased. This may indicate an increase in the severity of soft tissue injuries or a trend toward operative management. We also introduce a laceration grading scale for clinician use to assist in assessing and documenting injury severity. Further research is needed to assess whether these trends continue or revert to prepandemic trends.