INTRODUCTION: Mandibular fractures account for over 50% of all facial fractures in children, with the majority of these occurring at the condyle. There is currently no consensus on the management of mandibular condyle fractures in the paediatric population. Treatment options range from conservative management, with or without maxillomandibular fixation (MMF) and physiotherapy, to open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF).
METHODS: This was a retrospective review of all patients who attended Alder Hey Children's Hospital with fractured condyle(s) between the years 2000 and 2015. All patients were managed non-surgically and included those managed conservatively and/or with MMF. The following variables were recorded: age, sex, mechanism of injury, concomitant mandibular fractures, imaging, SORG classification, complications and follow-up intervals. The following exclusion criteria applied: patients who underwent open reduction internal fixation of their condylar fracture and patients aged 16 years or over.
RESULTS: Forty-nine patients (38 male, 11 female) underwent non-surgical management of condylar fractures during the 15-year study period. The mean age at time of injury was 12 years (range 2-15 years). The etiology of fractures comprised mechanical falls (n = 22), assault (n = 14), sport (n = 5), road traffic accident (n = 3), epileptic fit (n = 1), and unknown mechanism (n = 4). The mean length of hospital stay was 3 days, ranging from 0 to 14 days. Thirty-seven patients had a concomitant mandibular fracture and 12 had an isolated unilateral condylar fracture. Follow-up intervals ranged from 1 to 133 weeks, with a median length of 12 weeks. Fifteen patients underwent MMF, while 34 had soft diet and physiotherapy only. Ninety-two per cent of patients had no complications. No patient had failure of treatment requiring a return to theatre and/or ORIF. Occlusion, interincisal distance, asymmetry and TMJ symptoms were examined in 43/49 patients who attended their postoperative appointments. Four patients (8%) had complications in the postoperative period, namely: lateral open bite (n = 2), deviation to the affected side on wide opening (n = 1), and non-specific TMJ dysfunction (n = 1). None of these patients presented with any subjective symptoms and none developed asymmetry or needed any further surgical intervention.
CONCLUSION: Paediatric and adolescent mandibular condyle fractures can be safely and predictably managed using conservative methods. In our, albeit small, study cohort all patients were managed conservatively, and all had a satisfactory outcome with no requirement for further operative intervention.
Keywords: Conservative management Paediatric condyle fracture Strasbourg Osteosynthesis Research Group Trauma