Inpatients with gunshot wounds to the face

J Craniofac Surg. 2012 Jan;23(1):e62-5. doi: 10.1097/SCS.0b013e3182413e83.


Microvascular free tissue transfer (FTT) is an increasingly used method of reconstruction for traumatic defects of the head and neck. We describe the immediate management, FTT reconstruction techniques, and outcomes of 6 individuals who sustained maxillofacial gunshot trauma and were treated at a single tertiary-care level I trauma center. All 6 patients were white men with a mean age of 33 years. The mandible, nose, and orbital contents were the most frequently affected critical structures. All patients initially underwent primary wound debridement and tracheostomy, with concurrent maxillomandibular wire fixation and/or midface or mandible plate fixation in 5 patients. The mean time from injury to definitive FTT was 38 days. Five patients underwent fibula osteocutaneous FTT and 1 underwent radial forearm fasciocutaneous FTT. One patient also underwent concurrent local tissue rearrangement and pedicled flap surgery for nasal reconstruction. The mean hospital length of stay after FTT was 6 days. All FTT survived without necrosis. Oral incompetence and poor cosmesis from undesirable scarring patterns were the most common long-term complications. In summary, successful reconstruction of head and neck defects caused by gunshot trauma begins with airway stabilization, wound management, and bony fracture reduction and fixation. Definitive microvascular FTT is a useful method of repairing traumatic head and neck defects, although long-term functional and cosmetic complications may still occur.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bone Plates
  • Bone Transplantation / methods
  • Bone Wires
  • Debridement / methods
  • Fascia / transplantation
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Fracture Fixation, Internal / methods
  • Free Tissue Flaps*
  • Graft Survival
  • Humans
  • Jaw Fixation Techniques / instrumentation
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Mandibular Injuries / surgery
  • Maxillofacial Injuries / surgery*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nose / injuries
  • Orbit / injuries
  • Plastic Surgery Procedures / methods*
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Skin Transplantation / methods
  • Skull Fractures / surgery
  • Tracheostomy / methods
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Wounds, Gunshot / surgery*
  • Young Adult