IMPORTANCE: Classically, pterygoid plate fractures have been associated with fractures of the mid-face and skull base. When isolated pterygoid plate fractures are identified on imaging that only extends to the level of the skull base, other related facial fracturesmay be missed. We sought to evaluate isolated lateral pterygoid plate fractures on computed tomography (CT) scans in conjunction with mandible fractures and to propose a mechanism of fracture unrelated to the classic dissociating mid-face Le Fort fractures. OBSERVATIONS: In this retrospective case series, 7 patients who sustained facial trauma from 2006 to 2012 were found to have isolated lateral pterygoid plate fractures. All patients had an ipsilateral subcondylar fracture, 2 had symphyseal fracture, 2 had body fracture, and 1 had coronoid fracture. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: On the basis of these cases, isolated lateral pterygoid fractures noted on CT of the head may be suggestive of an unappreciated mandibular fracture. The suspected mechanism is due to force transduction through the medial and lateral pterygoid muscles when acute displacing force is placed on the mandible. In patients with identified isolated pterygoid plate factures, a dedicated CT of the mandible may be indicated to assess for associated mandibular fracture, even in patients whose clinical examinations have had negative results. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: NA.
ASJC Scopus subject areas