The World Cup Saw an Increase in Facial Reconstructive Surgeries
A Brazilian study, which was recently published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery – Global Open® (the official open-access medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons), has reported that fractures of the nose as well as other facial bones are quite a common occurrence among soccer players. In some cases, these injuries can be quite serious.
Invasive Surgical Procedures Sometimes Required
Just before the start of the 2014 Soccer World Cup, a group of plastic surgeons in Brazil discussed their experiences with regards to treating soccer-related facial injuries and fractures. Dr. Dov Charles Goldenberg, MD, PhD, from the University of Sao Paulo and his colleagues wrote, “Due to exposure and the lack of protection for the face, the occasional maxillofacial trauma sustained during soccer games often entails serious facial injuries requiring hospital admissions and invasive procedures.”
Increased Risk of Facial Fractures for Soccer Players
Data was gathered from 45 patients who underwent surgical treatment for various soccer-related facial injuries at two university hospital centers in Sao Paulo between 2000 and 2013. These injuries accounted for approximately 2% of all surgically treated facial injuries and fractures treated during that time. The average age of the players was 28 years and all of the treated players were amateurs. Cheekbone fractures accounted for 35% of the injuries, while the nose and upper jaw accounted for a further 35%. The remainder consisted of lower jaw and eye socket injuries. Over 80% of the injuries occurred due to collision with another player and the rest occurred due to being hit by the ball.
Treating the Injuries
The nasal injuries and fractures were the easiest to treat, as they merely required repositioning the fractured bones to their correct positions and splinting them until healing occurred. However, other types of facial fractures and injuries required some form of open surgery as well as internal fixation by means of screws and plates. In most cases, the patients remained in hospital for a few days and were advised afterwards that they could return to playing soccer anywhere between six to eight weeks later.
Raise Awareness with Regards to these Injuries
Although leg and foot injuries are also common among soccer players, they usually pose no serious health risk. However, facial fractures and other head-related injuries can pose serious health risks, especially when they are misdiagnosed or, in some cases, not treated at all. Dr. Goldenberg went on to mention in his report, “Missed diagnosis or delayed treatment can lead to facial deformities and functional problems in the physiological actions of breathing, vision and chewing.” The report went on to state that on average, it took seven days for a patient to seek treatment after being injured. In some cases, the injuries were even overlooked by primary medical care providers.
These researchers have stressed the need for careful examination of patients who seek treatment after being injured while playing soccer. Failure to do so could result in the occurrence of septal hematomas (blood collections or clots), which could be fatal if left unattended.