Orbital fractures in children

P J Koltai, I Amjad, D Meyer, P J Feustel
Archives of Otolaryngology—Head & Neck Surgery 1995, 121 (12): 1375-9

OBJECTIVE: To determine if the pattern of orbital fractures may be influenced by the changing craniofacial ratio of the growing child, as the orbit is the boundary between the face and the cranium.

DESIGN: Retrospective case series of 40 patients between the ages of 1 year and 16 years with orbital fractures.

SETTING: The Albany (NY) Medical Center Hospital, a tertiary level 1 trauma center.

OUTCOME MEASURES: The sex, age, site, and mechanism of injury, associated injury, and treatment methods for children admitted to the Albany Medical Center Hospital with orbital fractures between July 1986 and June 1992.

RESULTS: Fourteen children had fractures of the orbital roof, 10 children had fractures of the orbital floor, 14 children had mixed fractures, and two children had fractures of the medial wall. The mean age (4.8 +/- 3.3 years) of the 14 patients with roof fractures was significantly less than the mean age (12.0 +/- 4.2 years) of the 26 children with other orbital fractures. Logistic regression demonstrated that the age at which the probability of lower orbital fractures exceeds the probability of orbital roof fractures is 7.1 +/- 1.0 years. Orbital roof fractures had a significantly greater likelihood of associated neurocranial injuries. The need for surgical repair was significantly lower among children with roof fractures as well as among children 7 years of age and younger.

CONCLUSIONS: Orbital roof fractures are a type of skull fracture that occur primarily in younger children as a consequence of the proportionally larger cranium and the lack of frontal sinus pneumatization. Lower orbital fractures are a type of facial fracture that occur primarily in older children as a consequence of the increased vulnerability of the face due to growth and the pneumatization of the paranasal sinuses.

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