The tripod fracture, also known as the zygomatic tripod fracture, is a kind of zygomatic bone fracture that affects three areas: the maxillary sinus, the zygomatic arch, and the lateral orbital rim. It has been said that this fracture is the most apparent one after a person experiences blunt force trauma because it separates the zygoma from every part of the face, making it very visible. Zygomaticomaxillary complex is another related word for this.
To better understand this fracture, you will find plenty of helpful information about it in this article.
First of all, what causes tripod fractures? A lot of situations could bring about this kind of fracture such as sporting injuries, vehicle crashes, assaults, and falls. Indeed, many factors are attributed to it however one thing that’s quite clear in regards to the cause is that it happens when there is a direct blow to the facial malar eminence. When this happens, it is likely that the person who got hit or hurt will develop a tripod fracture.
Here are some signs and symptoms of a possible tripod fracture face injury:
- First you would notice bruising or swelling in the face.
- Second you will notice that your malar eminence has been flattened somewhat.
- Third you will feel a loss of sensation in the face, specifically that of the infraorbital nerve area.
- Fourth, there would be a change in mastication.
- Then there would be limited movements of the eyeballs and it would seem like the eyeballs are receding in its orbit.
- And lastly, there would be diplopia and/or the presence of ophthalmoplegia. It seems that with this fracture, the extraocular muscles are trapped and this leads to double vision and numbness in the lower eyelid.
Tripod fractures can be especially damaging to the face and it is something you don’t want to have to deal with. However, if it does happen to you, don’t get all stressed out because there is at least one tripod fracture treatment that’s quite effective. Now the following information can be a bit too technical so we will explain this as best as we can to help you understand easily.
The tripod fracture definition generally relates to a majority of facial fractures since it involves a fracture in the face. And just like other kinds of facial fractures, you would also notice pain, bruising, and swelling in the affected area plus of course, deformity. If you notice any of the above signs and symptoms, it is always best to get in touch with your doctor so that proper care and treatment can be given to hasten recovery time.
A fracture diagnosis is done by a qualified doctor in order to determine the extent of the damage. Even if it is quite likely that you have a tripod fracture, a tripod fracture ct scan may still be necessary just to be sure. Keep in mind as well that for nondisplaced fractures, these need to be re-evaluated after 7 days so that it can be determined on whether or not a surgery is necessary.
As a standard procedure, if you notice any of the above signs and symptoms of tripod fracture, never do anything that will only serve to worsen the condition. Touching the affected area and exposing yourself to harmful bacteria would not help at all. Keep calm and do not exert any pressure on the face. Oral liquids are also prohibited along with moving the affected area.
How to Treat Tripod Fracture
Basically, the usual treatment when it comes to zygomatic bone fractures would be the use of screws and miniplates, otherwise known as microplates. But the thing is that it can be quite difficult to embed screws and plates onto the thin fractured tripod bones in the face and other adjacent bones. For this reason, the use of a hemostatic agent known as cyanoacrylate is needed in the fixation of the mandibular osteotomies as well as in performing craniofacial surgery.
It is not necessary to make use of casts and braces for tripod fractures due to the fact that it is a facial condition. However, in order to get rid of the fracture symptoms the soonest time possible, it is advised to stay away from any activity that would cause movement in the face. Immobilization in the affected area is still needed if you want a quick recovery time.
When to Seek Medical Assistance
As mentioned, it is advisable to seek help as soon as you notice some signs and symptoms of tripod fracture. Aside from these, you should seek immediate help when under any of these conditions:
- You notice a clear nasal discharge after the trauma.
- Your nose begins to bleed and it does not stop.
- Loss of consciousness.
- An altered sensation in the face, particularly in the area that was affected.
- Open wounds, especially when you see a protruding bone.
When any of the above is present, get medical attention right away to prevent fracture complications. The presence of an open wound or a protruding bone could very well endanger you because it makes you susceptible to bacteria that cause dangerous infections. To be on the safe side, seek medical care as soon as possible.
Tripod Fracture Surgery
Apparently, majority of tripod fracture cases would require surgery. This is because the damage done to the cheeks, nose, and nearby areas can be rather ugly so you would want to get rid of it and get yourself looking normal again through tripod fracture repair. If you have been advised to undergo surgery, it is always recommended to wait until the swelling has gone down. While some doctors would tell you to undergo surgery right away, it is best to wait 5 to 10 days for the swelling to go. But make sure not to wait too long or you could be at risk of infection due to the wounds.
Other Treatment Options
Aside from the information provided above, you can also contribute to the faster healing time of tripod fracture through proper nutrition. As you are probably aware of, when the body is at optimum health, it is easier for it to heal and repair damaged muscles and bones. On the other hand, when it lacks proper nutrition, you cannot expect it to heal the way it normally does. Taking in lots of calcium and protein-rich foods and supplements can aid in reducing the healing time and recovery time - something that many orthopedists actually suggest.
Without a doubt, suffering from tripod bone fracture is not fun at all. This is why you need to make sure it doesn’t happen to you. But if it did already, taking steps to prevent it from happening again is still the best way to go. In this case, you should always be safe when driving or when on the road. Never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol so that you can drive properly. Moreover, using of protective gear when engaging in physical sports would also help reduce the occurrence of the aforementioned bone fracture.
Most cases have either been a result of playing highly physical sports like rugby, being involved in fistfights, and having figured in an accident. You could very well prevent tripod fractures from happening to you and your loved ones by always taking precautions in these activities and as much as possible, avoiding getting into fights with anyone.
The thing with tripod fracture is that unlike knuckle fracture or a galeazzi fracture, it is something that can be easily seen by others. It is quite embarrassing to have to show yourself in public with a tripod fracture in your face. Considering that it will take weeks for it to be completely healed, it isn’t really something you want to mess with. This is why prevention is always better than cure.