A guide to facial trauma triage and precautions in the COVID-19 pandemic Journal Article uri icon


  • COVID-19 is an emerging viral illness that has rapidly transmitted throughout the world. Its impact on society and the health care system has compelled hospitals to quickly adapt and innovate as new information about the disease is uncovered. During this pandemic, essential medical and surgical services must be carried out while minimizing the risk of disease transmission to health care workers. There is an elevated risk of COVID-19 viral transmission to health care workers during surgical procedures of the head and neck due to potential aerosolization of viral particles from the oral cavity/naso-oropharynx mucosa. Thus, patients with facial fractures pose unique challenges to the variety of injuries and special considerations, including triaging injuries and protective measures against infection. The proximity to the oral cavity/naso-oropharyngeal mucosa, and potential for aerosolization of secretions containing viral particles during surgical procedures make most patients undergoing operative interventions for facial fractures high risk for COVID-19 transmission. Our proposed algorithm aims to balance patient care with patient/medical personnel protection as well as judicious health care utilization. It stratifies facial trauma procedures by urgency and assigns a recommended level of personal protective equipment, extreme or enhanced, incorporating current best practices and existing data on viral transmission. As this pandemic continues to evolve and more information is obtained, the protocol can be further refined and individualized to each institution.

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publication date

  • 2020