High-Resolution Maxillofacial Computed Tomography Is Superior to Head Computed Tomography in Determining the Operative Management of Facial Fractures

Ankoor A. Talwar, Adee J. Heiman, Vasanth S. Kotamarti, Kanthi Bommareddy, Erin S. Harris, Maxwell L. Sandberg, Ashit Patel, Joseph A. Ricci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Computed tomography of the head (CTH) and maxillofacial bones (CTMF) can be performed concurrently, but CTMF is frequently ordered separately, after facial fractures identified on CTH scans. This study aims to evaluate whether obtaining additional CTMF after CTH changes operative management of patients with facial trauma. Materials and methods: A retrospective chart review was performed of all patients with facial trauma who presented to our level 1 trauma center between January 2009 and May 2019. CTH and CTMF were reviewed for each patient. Fracture numbers and patterns were compared to determine if CTMF provided additional information that necessitated change in management, based on predetermined criteria. Results: A total of 1215 patients were assessed for facial trauma. Of them, 899 patients underwent both CTH and CTMF scans. CTH identified 22.7% less fractures than CTMF (P < 0.001); specifically, more orbital, nasal, naso-orbito-ethmoid, zygoma, midface, and mandible fractures (P < 0.001). Of all patients 9.2% (n = 83) of patients with nonoperative fractures on CTH were reclassified as operative on CTMF; 0.6% (n = 5) with operative patterns on CTH were reclassified as nonoperative on CTMF, and 18.1% (n = 163) experienced a changed in their operative plan though operative fractures were seen on both imaging modalities. Additional findings seen on CTMF delegated change in the operative plan in 27.9% (n = 251) of cases. Conclusions: CTMF scans are necessary to determine operative intervention. As CTH and CTMF are constructed from the data, physicians should consider ordering both scans simultaneously for all patients with facial trauma to limit radiation exposure, control costs, and avoid delays in care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)381-389
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Facial CT scan
  • Facial fractures
  • Facial trauma
  • Head CT scan
  • Ionizing radiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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