Pediatric facial fractures: children are not just small adults

Radiographics. 2008 Mar-Apr;28(2):441-61; quiz 618. doi: 10.1148/rg.282075060.


Radiologic imaging is essential for diagnosing pediatric facial fractures and selecting the optimal therapeutic approach. Trauma-induced maxillofacial injuries in children may affect functioning as well as esthetic appearance, and they must be diagnosed promptly and accurately and managed appropriately to avoid disturbances of future growth and development. However, these fractures may be difficult to detect on images, and they are frequently underreported. The interpretation of facial radiographs is particularly challenging, and computed tomography (CT) is necessary in many cases to achieve an accurate diagnosis. To keep the radiation dose as low as reasonably achievable, ultrasonography may be used instead of radiography for the initial imaging evaluation when the clinical suspicion of fracture is low; if evidence of fracture is found, CT then may be performed for a more detailed evaluation. Regardless of the modality used, a familiarity with the characteristic imaging features of pediatric facial fractures is necessary for accurate image interpretation. In addition, knowledge of the epidemiologic and anatomic distribution of pediatric facial fractures is helpful. Particular kinds of fracture (nondisplaced, greenstick, displaced, comminuted) tend to occur at specific anatomic sites in children, with the severity and extent of the fracture varying according to the patient's age and the stage of skeletal development. Midfacial fractures and fractures that are severely displaced and comminuted may be accompanied by neurocranial injuries or other complications and should be evaluated at CT with multiplanar reformatting of image data.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Fractures, Bone / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Maxillofacial Injuries / diagnostic imaging*
  • Risk Factors
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*
  • Ultrasonography