Routine post-traumatic radiographic screening of midfacial injuries: is one view sufficient?

Injury. 1996 Jun;27(5):311-3. doi: 10.1016/0020-1383(96)00018-6.


Midfacial injuries are a common reason for attendance at Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments. A&E staff find these injuries difficult to assess due to limited undergraduate training in maxillofacial examination and early tissue oedema which may mask asymmetry. Patients are therefore referred for 'facial views' radiographs and commonly three views (OM15, OM30, lateral face) are taken for screening. We reviewed prospectively 137 consecutive patients over a 5-month period to determine whether one view (OM15) was sufficient to make a diagnosis in addition to clinical examination. Eighty-three per cent of patients had an accurate diagnosis from just the one view, representing a potential saving of 55 per cent of films taken. There were no fractures missed. The sensitivity was 87.5 per cent and the specificity was 83 per cent. We would suggest the introduction of a single-view facial radiograph as a safe method of screening for midfacial fracture in A&E patients where the clinical diagnosis is uncertain and provided there is no cervical injury. This would reduce costs by reducing films taken by over 50 per cent and patients' exposure to radiation.

MeSH terms

  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Facial Bones / diagnostic imaging
  • Facial Bones / injuries*
  • Fractures, Bone / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radiography
  • Sensitivity and Specificity