Author(s): Kaufman HJ, Ciraulo DL, Burns RP
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Abstract Hyoid bone fractures secondary to blunt trauma other than strangulation are rare (ML Bagnoli et al., J Oral Maxillofac Surg 1988; 46: 326-8), accounting for only 0.002 per cent of all fractures. The world literature reports only 21 cases. Surgical intervention involves airway management, treatment of associated pharyngeal perforations, and management of painful symptomatology. The importance of hyoid fracture, however, rests not with the rarity of it, but with the lethal potential of missed diagnosis. We submit three cases with varying presentations and management strategies. All three of our cases incurred injury by blunt trauma to the anterior neck. Two patients required emergent surgical airway after unsuccessful attempts at endotracheal intubation. One patient presented without respiratory distress and was managed conservatively. After fracture, the occult compressive forces of hematoma formation and soft tissue swelling may compromise airway patency. It is our clinical observation that hypoxia develops rapidly and without warning, leading to cardiorespiratory collapse. With endotracheal intubation prohibited by obstruction, a surgical airway must be established and maintained. Recognition of subtle clinical and physical findings are critical to the diagnosis of laryngotracheal complex injuries and may be life-saving in many instances. To ensure a positive outcome, a strong degree of suspicion based on mechanism of injury is mandated.
This article was published in Am Surg
and referenced in Emergency Medicine: Open Access