Sports-related facial injuries that require surgical correction have a higher incidence in the summer months and according to a study in the June issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery-Global Open, maxillofacial trauma is also a commonly reported injury in Brazilian soccer players.
“As with any sport, soccer provides both agony and ecstasy for its fans — as well as the occasional injury,” Dov Charles Goldenberg, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues at the University of São Paulo, Brazil, noted in the study.
While the most frequent injuries are orthopedic in nature, serious injuries to the face are also an issue, as the face is unprotected.
“Maxillofacial trauma sustained during soccer games often entails serious facial injuries requiring hospital admissions and invasive procedures,” study authors wrote.
Researchers performed a retrospective review of patients from two university hospitals in São Paulo who sustained soccer injuries from 2000 to 2013 and underwent surgical treatment for facial fractures; 44 of 45 patients were male, with an average age of 28. Nasal bone and orbitozygomatic fractures each occurred in 16 patients, mandibular fractures in seven patients, orbital fractures in six patients and frontal and nasoorbitoethmoid fractures each in one patient. The majority of injuries resulted from physical contact among players (n = 39). Only six patients reported injury as a result of the ball itself.
Most facial fractures were repaired with open surgery and the internal use of plates and screws to reposition bones. Fractures of the nose required repositioning bones and splinting. The average hospital stay was five days, with six to eight weeks required for healing before retuning to the soccer field.
The authors suggested that the rate of soccer-related facial trauma is likely much higher than reported, citing socioeconomic factors, and the possibility that many nasal fractures may only be treated with anti-inflammatories and analgesics, as they frequently present without clinically evident deviations.
As a result, the researchers stressed the importance of generating awareness of the frequency of these kinds of injuries as well as knowledge of the anatomy among first responders, nurses and physicians.
“Furthermore, missed diagnosis or delayed treatment can lead to facial deformities and functional problems in the physiological actions of breathing,” they concluded.