A nasal fracture is a break in one or more of the bones of the nose, caused by trauma. It’s also called a broken nose.
There are 2 nasal bones side by side in the nose. These bones form the bridge of the nose. They help support the upper part of the nose. They also help support the cartilage that forms the lower part of the nose.
A nasal fracture is a break in one of the nasal bones or in one or more of the bones that make up your nasal septum. The septum separates the left and right sides of your nose. It is made of cartilage and parts of several other nasal bones. These are known as the ethmoid bone, the vomer bone, the maxillary bone, and the palatine bone.
Nasal fractures are more common in adults than in children. Children’s nasal bones are more difficult to fracture. Nasal fracture is fairly uncommon in young children. The risk increases with age. More boys than girls get nasal fractures. The nasal bone is one of the most commonly fractured bones of the face. The lower part of the nasal bone is thinner than the upper part and breaks more easily.
Trauma to the nose causes nasal fracture. This might come from various sources, like:
Most nasal trauma does not cause nasal fracture. Many children experience other injuries to the nose, like deviation of the septum.
Symptoms of a nasal fracture might include:
Usually, the injury to the nose is obvious.
Your child’s healthcare provider will perform a medical history, asking for the details of the trauma. Your child will also need a thorough medical exam. This will include both an internal and external exam of the nose. Because nasal fracture often happens with other injury, your child will need a thorough exam assessing other possible areas of injury, like the eyes and teeth.
Plain X-rays do not usually aid in diagnosis. Your child may need another type of imaging, such as computed tomography (CT) scan, to provide more information about the damage.
A primary care healthcare provider, emergency room healthcare provider, or pediatrician (healthcare provider who specializes in children’s healthcare) often makes the first diagnosis. However, most children need to see an ear, nose, and throat healthcare provider (otolaryngologist) for treatment.
Your child’s healthcare provider will figure out the best treatment for your child based on:
Children should sit upright for a time after the injury, to help reduce swelling and pooling of blood in the nose. Initial treatment might include pain medicines and ice.
Some children with severe injuries need to see an ear, nose, and throat healthcare provider immediately. Others will need to see an ear, nose, and throat healthcare provider after a few days. The delay allows the swelling to go down, so the healthcare provider can evaluate and recommend further steps.
Many children need “reduction” of the nasal fracture as part of their treatment. This just means that a healthcare provider needs to realign the bones, if they are out of place. Your child might need this right away or later at a follow-up appointment. Your healthcare provider might do this by physically moving the bones back into place (“closed reduction”). Less commonly, surgery is necessary (“open reduction”). Because this can be painful, healthcare providers usually do this when the child is asleep under general anesthesia. After reduction, the nose usually needs a splint.
After the reduction, your child’s nose may not look exactly the way it did before. Rhinoplasty surgery (nose surgery) may help restore a more cosmetic appearance.
If your child’s nasal fracture is more severe, he or she might need a more complicated surgery immediately after the injury. Septorhinoplasty can help restore the cosmetic appearance of the nose, as well as restoring a displaced nasal septum and blocked nasal airway.
Nasal fracture in children sometimes results in complications, though your healthcare team will work hard to prevent these. Your child’s risk for complications may vary according to age and the extent of injury. Some possible complications include:
These complications often need additional treatment, l like antibiotics for a septal abscess, or surgical drainage of a septal hematoma.In infants, nasal fracture can also cause difficulty breathing because infants cannot breathe through their mouths. These children need immediate treatment.
A nasal fracture is a break in one or more of the bones of the nose, caused by trauma.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider:
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