Airway status in civilian maxillofacial gunshot injuries in Johannesburg, South Africa

Tsakiris, P.
Cleaton-Jones, P. E.
Lownie, M. A.
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BACKGROUND: Airway management of the maxillofacial gunshot injury constitutes a critical decision and an area that requires review in the context of civilian injuries. Most of our knowledge is extrapolated from military experience, which constitutes a different trauma patient group. This paper reports a retrospective survey of airway status in relation to maxillofacial gunshot injuries. The objective is to correlate clinical findings with treatment decisions. METHODS: A survey was done of 11,622 archived maxillofacial surgery records (1987-1992) in the three academic hospitals in Johannesburg. RESULTS: There were 211 maxillofacial gunshot injuries, for which 92 patient records had sufficient detail for inclusion in the analysis. The typical patient was a black male aged 20-29 years, shot with a low-velocity bullet of 0.38 calibre, admitted to hospital the day of the injury, operated on within 4 days, and discharged 4 days later. The airway was threatened in 20/92 cases at admission; 12/20 cases were treated with oro-or nasotracheal intubation, and 9/12 later had elective tracheostomies; 8/20 needed immediate surgical airways, 5 tracheostomies and 3 cricothyroldotomies (all later converted to tracheostomies). Three of thirty-seven patients with normal airways on admission later required emergency tracheostomy. CONCLUSIONS: An abnormal airway was significantly more likely after a high-velocity injury, and when the tongue, floor of mouth, midline or bilateral facial skeletal bones were involved.
Maxillofacial Injuries/complications, Wounds, Gunshot, Tracheostomy, Airway Obstruction
Tsakiris,P., Cleaton-Jones,P.E., Lownie,M.A.2002. Airway status in civilian maxillofacial gunshot injuries in Johannesburg, South Africa.South African medical journal;92(10):803-806