Facial soft tissue injuries as an aid to ordering a combination head and facial computed tomography in trauma patients

Eric P. Holmgren, Eric J. Dierks, Leon A. Assael, R. Bryan Bell, Bryce E. Potter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Purpose: While the trauma computed tomography (CT) head scan is frequently ordered during resuscitation of multiply injured patients, determining when also to order facial CT in these situations can be difficult. Consequently, facial fractures are commonly missed on initial imaging evaluation. In acute trauma situations, facial soft tissue injury markers are often used to aid in this decision. A study was undertaken to identify exactly which facial soft tissue injuries correlate with facial fractures and which did not. The aim of our research was to compare the facial soft tissue injury patterns of patients receiving a combination head and facial CT who had facial fractures versus those who had no facial fractures. Patients and Methods: A retrospective trauma registry review was performed for a 5-year period at Legacy Emanuel Hospital, a level 1 trauma center. The trauma team saw a total of 9,871 trauma patients and 49.9% required head CT as part of their initial evaluation. A total of 777 (15.7%) patients had a combination head and facial CT in which 477 (61.4%) had a facial fracture and 300 (38.6%) had no facial fracture. Statistical significance was established using Bonferroni corrected P values less than. 05. Results: Lacerations occurring in areas of the lips, nose, and intraorally, as well as wounds leading to periorbital contusion and subconjunctival hemorrhage, were significantly prevalent in the fracture group. Conversely, scalp lacerations and scalp contusions were significantly higher in the nonfracture group. Other injuries such as lacerations of the tongue, chin, forehead, cheek, ear, eyelid, and eyebrow were indistinguishable between both groups. Conclusions: Our data demonstrate that there are certain facial soft tissue injury zones that correlate with facial fractures in trauma patients who obtain head CT. We would like to propose that the acronym LIPS-N (Lip laceration, Intraoral laceration, Periorbital contusion, Subconjunctival hemorrhage, and Nasal laceration) be used in conjunction with a physical examination when assessing if a trauma patient who is getting head CT should also get facial CT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)651-654
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2005


Dive into the research topics of 'Facial soft tissue injuries as an aid to ordering a combination head and facial computed tomography in trauma patients'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this