Craniofacial fracture may result from severe head trauma. Depending on the extent of fracture and other injuries obtained in the traumatic event, patients may require care from many different specialists.
The most common craniofacial fractures are those of the nasal bones, followed by cranial bones, mandible (lower jaw), zygoma (cheekbone), orbital bones (around the eye), and maxilla (upper jaw).
Several craniofacial fracture complications may require neurosurgical treatment. A dislodged bone in the skull may compress the optic nerve, resulting in visual disturbances. Another complication is a cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) leak as a result of the fractured bone causing a tear in the dura, which is the protective membrane surrounding the brain.
Depending on the location, optic nerve compression and CSF leaks can be treated with the Endoscopic Endonasal Approach (EEA). This innovative, minimally invasive technique uses the nose and nasal cavities as natural corridors to access hard-to-reach areas or previously inoperable tumors. EEA offers the benefits of no incisions to heal, no disfigurement to the patient, and a faster recovery time.
Craniofacial fractures are diagnosed through imaging studies, such as x-rays, MRI and CT scans.
When appropriate, UPMC physicians will use the Endoscopic Endonasal Approach (EEA) to repair CSF leaks of the skull base or to decompress the optic nerve. This approach allows surgeons to see and correct the injury without making an open incision. The procedure is performed through the nose and nasal cavities, and recovery time is faster than with a traditional approach.
At UPMC, we take a 360° Approach to treatment when evaluating each patient—looking at their conditions from every direction—to find the path that is least disruptive to the patient's brain, critical nerves, and ability to return to normal functioning. Our neurosurgical team may recommend a combination of surgical and non-surgical approaches to maximize the benefits of surgery while minimizing risks.