Because the FIFA Women’s World Cup has ended, a reminder of the risk for serious facial injuries in soccer players is warranted.
Many of the saw the exciting World Cup soccer championships in Canada this past month. We also saw the physical nature of the game as well as many sports-related injuries to the face and head.
Who can forget the American player who suffered a head injury and was nearly knocked unconscious. Specifically, for plastic surgeons, a new Brazilian study highlights the severity of soccer-related facial fractures requiring surgery.
Dr. Charles Goldenberg, MD, PhD, of University of São Paulo and colleagues write, “Due to exposure and the lack of protection for the face, the occasional maxillofacial trauma sustained during soccer games often entails serious facial injuries requiring hospital admissions and invasive procedures.”
The researchers assembled data on 45 patients undergoing surgical treatment for soccer-related facial fractures at two large university hospital centers in São Paulo between 2000 and 2013. The 45 soccer injuries accounted for two percent of surgically treated facial fractures during that time. Forty-four of the patients were male; the average age was 28 years. All of the injured players were amateurs.
The nose and upper jaw (maxilla) accounted for 35 percent of fractures and the cheekbone (zygomatic bone) for another 35 percent. Most of the remaining fractures were of the lower jaw (mandible) and eye socket (orbit). Eighty-seven percent of the injuries were caused by collision with another player; the rest occurred when the player was struck by the ball.
Nasal fractures were treated by repositioning (reducing) the fractured bones to their proper place and splinting until they healed. Other types of facial fractures required open surgery and internal fixation (plates, screws) to reposition the bones. The patients remained in the hospital for about five days on average, and were told they could return to play after six to eight weeks of healing.
The results are consistent with previous studies of soccer-related facial injuries. Lower extremity injuries (leg and foot) are much more common, fractures and other injuries to the head and face are a significant risk.
The researchers highlight the need for careful examination of the nasal cavity to look for possible septal hematomas (blood collections), which could lead to serious complications. The online, open-access article is accompanied by videos illustrating the authors’ approach to diagnosis and management of septal hematomas and the potential consequences of untreated nasal fracture.