Shortly before the start of the 2014 World Cup, Brazilian plastic surgeons undertook a study dealing with football-related facial injuries. The report was compiled by a team from the University of Sao Paolo and has been published in the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery-Global Open journal.
The researchers gathered data on 45 patients who underwent surgery as a result of football-related injuries. The procedures were performed in two major Sao Paolo university hospital centres in the period between 2000 and 2013. These sports injuries represented 2% of all facial fractures treated through surgery over that period. All but one of the patients observed were male and their average age was 28. None of them were professional football players.
Nose and upper jaw fractures made up 35% of the total and the same proportion was attributable to cheekbone fractures. The rest of the fractures were mostly found on eye sockets and the lower jaw. Fractures caused by collision with another player were responsible for 87% of the total and the remainder occurred as a result of the ball hitting the player.
Serious traumas of the face are commonly experienced by football players because face protection gear is not used in this sport, commented Dr. Dov Charles Goldenberg, part of the Sao Paolo University team. Such injuries often require invasive procedures and hospitalisation, Goldenberg added.
Goldenberg advised other doctors to be careful when dealing with such injuries. He believes that poor diagnosis or delayed treatment can result in deformities to the face. They can also impair major functions like breathing, vision and chewing, he pointed out. Doctors should pay special attention to nasal cavities since septal haematomas might occur there and result in further complications.