INTRODUCTION: Gunshot wounds (GSWs) to the face are an infrequent occurrence outside of a war zone. However, when they occur, they constitute a significant reconstructive challenge. We present our 10-year experience at an urban level I trauma center to define the patterns of injury, assess the morbidity and mortality, and estimate the cost to the health care system. METHODS: A retrospective review was performed on all patients admitted to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center with GSWs to the head and neck region between January 1997 and January 2007. Those who had sustained GSWs to the face requiring operative intervention were closely reviewed. RESULTS: Between 1997 and 2007, a total of 702 patients were admitted to the Harbor UCLA Emergency Department having sustained GSWs to the head and neck region, of which 501 patients survived. Of the survivors, 28 patients (26 male, 2 female) sustained GSWs to their face requiring operative intervention. The mean age of these patients was 28 (±8.3) years. They generally presented within a few hours of the injury, but 1 individual arrived over 24 hours later. Low-velocity single gunshots (from handguns) were predominantly involved, with facial fractures occurring in all cases. Fractures were of a localized shattering type without the major displacement of bony complexes seen in motor vehicle accidents. Most required wound debridement and fracture fixation. A few patients (14.2%) underwent free tissue transfer for reconstruction (3 fibular flaps, 1 TRAM). Tracheostomy was performed in 35.7% of patients. Mean length of hospital stay was 8.3 (±7.1) days, with 50% of cases requiring admission to the intensive care unit. Mean length of intensive care unit stay was 5.2 (±5.7) days. The average cost per patient exceeded $100,000.
- county hospital
- epidemiology of gunshot injuries to head and neck
- gunshot injuries to face
- gunshot injuries to head and neck
- patterns of facial injury
- treatment of facial gunshot injuries
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