Airway obstruction associated with fractures of the midfacial skeleton can be life-threatening if not recognized promptly and treated appropriately. One hundred seventeen patients with LeFort fractures were treated between 1978 and 1984. Of the 117 patients, 21 had a LeFort I fracture, 46 had a LeFort II fracture, 14 had a LeFort III fracture, and 36 had various combinations of the three types of LeFort fractures.
Thirty-one patients (26.5%) presented with airway obstruction, decreased respiration, or both, requiring either tracheotomy or endotracheal intubation. Of the 31 patients undergoing emergent tracheotomy or endotrachealintubation, 26 (83.9%) had loss of consciousness relating to their injuries. Thirty-nine (33.3%) additional patients had an elective tracheotomy either at the time of surgical repair of their fractures or for prolonged endotracheal intubation.
Age and sex of the patients played no role in the incidence of airway complications in patients with LeFort fractures. Patients with LeFort III fractures and those with associated injuries such as mandible fracture, laryngeal and pharyngeal injury, and chest or closed head injury are at greater risk for requiring emergent control of the airway.