​Craniofacial Fracture

What is a Craniofacial Fracture?

Craniofacial fracture may result from severe head trauma.

Depending on the extent of your fracture and other injuries obtained in the traumatic event, you may need care from many different specialists.

Common craniofacial fractures

The most common craniofacial fractures, ordered by frequency, are:

  1. Nasal bone
  2. Cranial bone
  3. Mandible (lower jaw)
  4. Zygoma (cheekbone)
  5. Orbital bones (around the eye)
  6. Maxilla (upper jaw)

Complications from craniofacial fractures

Several craniofacial fracture complications may require neurosurgical treatment:

  • A dislodged bone in the skull may compress the optic nerve, resulting in visual disturbances.
  • A cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak as a result of the fractured bone causing a tear in the dura, which is the protective membrane surrounding the brain.

Depending on the location, optic nerve compression and CSF leaks can be treated with the Endoscopic Endonasal Approach (EEA). This innovative, minimally invasive technique uses the nose and nasal cavities as natural corridors to access hard-to-reach areas or previously inoperable tumors.

The benefits of EEA include:

  • No incisions to heal
  • No disfigurement to the patient
  • Faster recovery time

Craniofacial Fracture Symptoms and Diagnosis

Craniofacial fracture symptoms

Symptoms of craniofacial fractures include:

  • Concussion
  • Dizziness
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Pain
  • Vomiting
  • Changes in vision
  • Feeling faint or tired

Diagnosing craniofacial fractures

Craniofacial fractures occur as the result of severe head trauma. Doctors diagnose craniofacial fractures through imaging studies, such as:

  • X-rays
  • MRI scans
  • CT scans

Doctors may also perform neurological exams or exams of the ear or nose to check for cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leaks.

Craniofacial Fracture Treatments

At UPMC, we take a 360° approach to treating craniofacial fractures — looking at your condition from every direction — to find the path that is least disruptive to your brain, critical nerves, and ability to return to normal functioning.

Minimally invasive surgery for craniofacial fractures

When appropriate, UPMC surgeons will use the Endoscopic Endonasal Approach (EEA) to repair CSF leaks of the skull base or to decompress the optic nerve.

EEA allows surgeons to see and correct the injury without making an open incision. The procedure is performed through the nose and nasal cavities, and recovery time is faster than with a traditional approach.

Our neurosurgical team may recommend a combination of surgical and non-surgical approaches to maximize the benefits of surgery while minimizing risks.