Orthopedic pitfalls in the ED: fight bite

Am J Emerg Med. 2002 Mar;20(2):114-7. doi: 10.1053/ajem.2002.31146.


Clenched fist injuries to the mouth ("fight bite") are notorious for being the worst human bites. These are often treated as minor injuries, without the recognition that the joint capsule, the extensor tendon, or the deep fascial spaces may have been violated and contaminated with oral bacteria. Significant morbidity can result from late presentation or inadequate initial management. The emergency physician needs to remain vigilant for complications associated with closed fist injury. This review article examines the clinical presentation, diagnostic techniques, and management options applicable to the emergency physician in the treatment of fight bite.

MeSH terms

  • Bites, Human*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Hand Injuries* / diagnosis
  • Hand Injuries* / etiology
  • Hand Injuries* / therapy
  • Humans