The study, led by former Wisconsin head and neck surgeon Dr. Scott Chaiet and otolaryngology resident Dr. David Hyman reviewed 2007 through 2012 data from the National Trauma Data Bank (NTDB). The study determined that the incidence of facial fracture from motor-vehicle crashes for patients who went to trauma centers was nearly 11 percent. Nasal fracture was most common, followed by fracture of the midface.
“Based on our analysis, we found that use of an airbag alone reduced the likelihood of a facial fracture by 18 percent while use of a seat belt alone decreased likelihood by 43 percent,” said Chaiet. “Use of both decreased the chances of facial fractures in a crash by 53 percent.”
The study also found that those most likely to suffer facial fractures were younger males who used alcohol and did not use or have safety devices.
In the retrospective study, a total of more than 518,000 patients required medical treatment at a trauma center after a motor-vehicle crash. More than 56,000 of them had at least one facial fracture. Of those who suffered a facial fracture, almost six percent had airbag deployment only, 27 percent used a seat belt only, almost seven percent used both and 57 percent used no safety device.
“The trend in reduction in facial fractures with the use of airbags and seat belts can be attributed to advances in airbag technology over the last ten to 15 years,” said Hyman.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2.3 million people were injured and nearly 38,000 people were killed in motor-vehicle collisions in 2013.
University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health