Research Article| Volume 60, ISSUE 2, P146-151, February 2007

The conservative management of facial fractures: indications and outcomes

Published:November 20, 2006DOI:



      With little in the published literature on the conservative management of facial fractures we set out to determine whether our current criteria for treatment are valid.


      Two hundred and thirty adult patients with fractures of the facial skeleton were treated conservatively by our unit between February 1997 and January 2003. Their notes were reviewed retrospectively.


      Most patients were males (76%), the average age was 38 years, and drugs or alcohol were a significant aspect of the history in 30% of the cases. The most common mechanism of injury was assault (47%), followed by falls and sporting injuries. Fifty percent of the fractures involved the orbital or orbito-zygomatic complex, and 55% had associated injuries. Average follow-up was for six weeks (range 0–44 weeks). Most patients were managed conservatively based on our current criteria of un-displaced/minimally displaced fracture (57%); or minimal/no symptoms (24%). At final review, a number had residual symptoms, but only three required corrective surgery. The other reasons for conservative management included patient non-compliance (11%), and medical contraindications (8%).


      Our results support current indications for the conservative management of facial fractures, but emphasise the need for ongoing follow-up of these patients.


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