PURPOSE: The stage of maturation of the pediatric facial skeleton at the time of injury has a significant impact on both facial fracture patterns and management strategies. For instance, the relative prominence of the pediatric cranium during the early years of life affords protection to the structures of the midface, whereas delayed aeration of the frontal sinuses may predispose younger patients to frontal bone fractures. The dentition status of a pediatric patient may have similar implications in the setting of facial fracture. In this study, the authors examine the effect of dentition status on facial fracture patterns and management strategies at an urban, level I trauma center.
METHODS: A retrospective chart review was performed for all cases of facial fracture occurring in the pediatric patient population at a level I trauma center (University Hospital in Newark, N.J.) between 2002 and 2014. A database including patient demographics, facial fracture and concomitant injury patterns, and operative management data was constructed and analyzed.
RESULTS: A total of 72 patients with mixed dentition met inclusion criteria for our study and were compared against patients with primary (n = 35) and permanent (n = 305) dentition. The mean age at presentation was 9.2 years, with a male predominance of 68%. The most common fracture etiology was pedestrian struck accident (n = 23), fall (n = 21), motor vehicle collision (n = 12), and assault (n = 9). The most frequently identified facial fractures were that of the orbit (n = 31), mandible (n = 21), nasal bone (n = 19), and frontal sinus (n = 14). Additionally, 8 Le Fort and 4 nasoorbitoethmoid fractures were identified. Twenty-one patients (29%) required operative management for ≥1 facial fractures. Operative intervention was required in 38% of mandibular fractures, with 6 patients requiring only maxillomandibular fixation and 2 requiring open reduction internal fixation with titanium plating. Nine cases of orbital fracture (29%) were managed operatively: 2 with absorbable plates, 2 with Medpor implants, and the remaining with titanium plating. Management of all nasal fractures requiring operative intervention was accomplished through closed reduction. Concomitant injuries included skull fracture (n = 35), traumatic brain injury (TBI) (n = 35), intracranial hemorrhage (ICH) (n = 21), and long bone fracture (n = 12). Seventeen patients required admission to the intensive care unit. Patients with permanent dentition were significantly more likely to sustain frontal sinus and Le Fort fractures (P < 0.01), and skull fracture, ICH, and TBI (P < 0.01) as compared to those with mixed dentition.
CONCLUSION: The dentition status of a pediatric patient may have significant implications in both patterns of injury and operative management strategies in the setting of acute facial trauma. Our study finds that Le Fort and frontal sinus fractures were significantly more common in patients with permanent dentition. Severe concomitant injuries such as ICH and TBI were also significantly more likely in this cohort. A patient’s dentition status may also play a role in the decision for ridged fixation of mandibular and orbital fractures, and the method of maxillomandibular fixation in maxillary and mandibular alveolar fracture.