Purpose: Studies of trauma patients have described patterns of injuries sustained from unfortunate encounters with large animals. However, the patterns of maxillofacial injuries have yet to be reported. The goal of this investigation was to describe and report on maxillofacial injuries that are associated with interaction with horses.
Patients and methods: Charts were selected from the trauma registry by E-code at a level 1 trauma center in Portland, OR. A retrospective review was performed on charts collected from the previous 5 years (1998-2002). Data were collected according to patient, pattern of injuries, and mechanism of injury.
Results: The 62 patients who were identified consisted of 15 males (24%) and 47 females (76%) and ranged in age from 1 to 83 years (average age, 32 years; most frequent age, 12 years). Most of the accidents occurred in the spring months and involved a horse known to the patient. The most common mechanism was falling from the horse. However, being kicked was correlated with a more serious injury (P =.048). The most frequent injury was abrasion/contusion (24 [39%]), second were lacerations (20 [32%]), and third were fractures (18 [29%]). Fifty (81%) were not wearing helmets. Forty-six (74%) of the patients had other associated injuries.
Conclusions: In patients with facial injuries related to horses, younger females were the most frequently involved. Facial injuries were often associated with other types of injuries. Nearly a third of the facial injuries sustained were fractures. The percentage of riders without a helmet was high. However, in our patient population, wearing a helmet does not seem to add any protection to the face, and almost all of the accidents involved a horse known to the patient. More education aimed at horse owners regarding the use of helmets, proper handling and riding skills, and supervising young riders is encouraged to prevent further injuries.