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Cranial Nerve Injuries Are Associated with Specific Craniofacial Fractures after Blunt Trauma

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Identification of cranial nerve (CN) injuries after blunt trauma is often delayed due to concomitant life-threatening trauma, altered mental status, and associated bony or soft tissue injuries. We hypothesized that specific craniofacial fracture (FX) patterns are associated with CN injuries, permitting earlier diagnosis. The trauma registry at a single institution was queried for all CN injuries and craniofacial FXs. Associations were determined by Fisher's exact test. Ninety CN injuries were identified in 59 patients. CN injuries were diagnosed on the day of admission in 24 (41%) patients. The most frequently injured CNs were CN VII (22), CN I (16), and CN VI (14). Occipital FXs were associated with CN I injury (P = 0.001). Sphenoid and ethmoid FXs were correlated with CN III trauma (P = 0.019 and 0.04). Temporal bone FXs were associated with CN VII injuries (P = 0.025). Maxillary FXs were associated with CN V injuries (P = 0.041). Complete or partial recovery was documented after 17 per cent and 39 per cent of CN injuries, respectively. Diagnostic delay was documented in 59 per cent of patients. Specific craniofacial FXs were correlated with certain CN injuries. Partial or complete recovery of function occurred after 56 per cent of CN injuries.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Medical Education, Gundersen Lutheran Medical Foundation, La Crosse, Wisconsin, USA

Publication date: November 1, 2010

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