Traumatic Falls in the Pediatric Population: Facial Fracture Patterns Observed in a Leading Cause of Childhood Injury

Nicholas C. Oleck, Andrew A. Dobitsch, Farrah C. Liu, Jordan N. Halsey, Thuy My T. Le, Ian C. Hoppe, Edward S. Lee, Mark S. Granick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


PURPOSE: Falls are a leading cause of nonfatal injury in the pediatric population, resulting in numerous hospitalizations. Children may not have fully developed reflexive and balancing abilities, rendering them more susceptible to traumatic falls. Here the authors present their findings regarding patterns of facial fracture and concomitant injury seen in the pediatric population secondary to falls. METHODS: A retrospective chart review was performed of all facial fractures as a result of falls in the pediatric population in a level 1 trauma center in an urban environment (University Hospital in Newark, NJ). Patient demographics were collected, as well as location of fractures, concomitant injuries, and surgical management strategies. RESULTS: Fifty-five patients were identified as 18 years or younger and having sustained a facial fracture as the result of a fall. This cohort was compared with 418 pediatric patients with facial fractures due to nonfall etiologies. The mean age was 9.6 years (range, 0-18 years), with a male predominance of 67.3%. There were a total of 70 fractures identified on radiological imaging. The most frequently fractured bones were the orbit (n = 27), nasal bone (n = 15), and mandible (n = 11). Orbital and frontal sinus fractures each occurred more frequently due to falls compared with all other causes of injury. Patients with orbital fractures were significantly more likely to present with an additional facial fracture compared with those without (P < 0.01). The most common concomitant injuries were traumatic brain injury, skull fracture, and intracranial hemorrhage. Patients who suffered a facial fracture due to a fall were significantly more likely to sustain a concomitant skull fracture (P < 0.05) and intra-abdominal injury (P < 0.05) compared with all other etiologies. Fourteen patients required surgical intervention. One patient died. CONCLUSIONS: Pediatric facial fractures are a unique entity. The general plasticity of the pediatric anatomy can predispose patients to significant injury without obvious external signs. A high level of clinical suspicion is required to avoid misdiagnosis and delay of treatment. The authors hope this study can address a preventable issue in child safety, educate caregivers, and provide insight towards fracture management that fosters functional and aesthetic recovery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S195-S198
JournalAnnals of plastic surgery
Issue number4S Suppl 3
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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