Current opinion in the assessment and management of ballistic trauma to the craniomaxillofacial region.
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Ballistic trauma represents a small proportion of injuries to the craniomaxillofacial (CMF) region, even in societies where the availability of firearms is more prevalent. The aim of this article is to review current opinion in the assessment and management of ballistic injuries sequentially from primary survey to definitive reconstruction. RECENT FINDINGS: For mandibular fractures because of ballistic trauma, load-bearing fixation remains the mainstay in the treatment. The use of load sharing fixation is rarely advised, even if the fracture pattern radiologically appears to fulfil the traditional indications for its use. Clinicians must be aware of specific situations in early internal fixation is contraindicated, particularly in those unstable patients requiring short damage control surgical procedures, avulsive soft and hard tissue defects and those injuries at increased risk of infection. SUMMARY: Staged surgery for complex injuries is increasingly becoming accepted, by which injuries are temporarily stabilized by means of maxillary--mandibular fixation (MMF) or an external fixation. Patients are subsequently repeat CT-scanned, and definitive internal fixation performed a few days later. Increased access to virtual surgical planning (VSP) and three-dimensional plates has revolutionized fracture reconstruction.
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