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Facial Fracture (cont.)

When to Seek Medical Care

A doctor should check all people with facial trauma and any significant facial injury. The affected individual can either see a doctor or go to the emergency department.

In the event of serious trauma, 911 should be called.

If a person experiences the following symptoms, seek medical attention.

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Clear nasal discharge
  • Nosebleed
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Any visual disturbance such as double or blurry vision
  • Any hearing problem
  • Inability to bring teeth together
  • Pain with jaw movement
  • Altered sensation on the face
  • Face uneven (asymmetrical)
  • Open wounds with visible bone

Facial Fracture Diagnosis

Nasal fracture

  • Even if a person has an injury to the nose, it is rare that X-rays will be needed to guide the treatment. A nasal fracture is usually diagnosed by physical exam. The initial care for a nasal injury does not change even if the patient has a fracture.
  • If a fracture of the bones high up inside the nose (ethmoid bones) is suspected, the doctor may order a CT scan.

Jaw (mandibular) fracture: If the patient has a possible jaw fracture, the doctor may order an X-ray. Sometimes a special dental X-ray machine may be used to help in the diagnosis. Not all hospitals have this equipment.

Midface (maxillary) fracture

  • Because they are most often caused in car accidents, fractures of the midface are often associated with other significant, potentially life-threatening injuries. So diagnosing a facial fracture is often not the most important part of the patient's early treatment.
  • After the patient is stabilized, a CT scan of the face is the most useful imaging study to check for a midface fracture.

Cheekbone (zygomatic) fracture

  • If the patient is evaluated immediately, the doctor can usually diagnose these by physical exam. This becomes more difficult with time because of swelling.
  • Special X-ray views of the zygomatic bone are often helpful. If the patient has a severe fracture involving other bones of the face, the doctor may also order a CT scan to get more information.

Eye socket (orbital) fracture

  • X-rays may be helpful in the initial diagnosis.
  • If a fracture of the eye socket is shown on your X-ray, the patient will probably have a CT scan to get more information.

Temporomandibular joint dislocation

  • If the dislocation is the result of trauma, an X-ray will be done to rule out a fracture of the jaw.
  • The patient will not need an X-ray if you have a spontaneous or recurrent dislocation.

Facial Fracture Self-Care at Home

Home care is limited until a doctor sees the injured person.

  • Use an ice pack on the area to help with pain and swelling.
  • Apply direct pressure to bleeding areas.
Last Reviewed 11/20/2017
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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Fracture, Face »

In approximately 400 BC, Hippocrates provided the first description of a variety of facial injuries.

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