Distinct patterns of facial injury among victims of partner violence

Distinct patterns of facial injury among victims of partner violence

Female victims of intimate partner violence usually have distinct patterns of facial injury compared to women who have experienced facial trauma from other causes, according to an article published in Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery, February 2008 issue. Such data, as well as other characteristics, such as delay before seeking medical help, may help surgeons and other doctors recognize women who are victims of this type of abuse.

Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery in one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

About 25% to 33% of American adult women are affected by intimate partner violence abuse by a spouse or significant other, the authors explain. 88% to 94% of these victims seek medical help for head and neck injuries - 56% of these women have facial fractures.

The researchers wrote "Because intimate partner violence accounts for 34 percent to 73 percent of facial injuries in women, facial plastic surgeons and other health care providers who treat patients with maxillofacial injuries are in a unique position to identify these victims and refer them to local domestic violence service programs for safety planning, information and referrals, support services and advocacy, depending on the victims' needs and choices."

Oneida A. Arosarena, M.D., Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia, and team looked at the dental and medical records of 326 women who had been treated for facial trauma at one university medical center from 1998 to 2004 - the women's average age was 35 years.

They found that..

-- 13.8% (45 patients) were assault victims

-- 18 of them were documented victims of intimate partner violence

-- 24 of the remaining 26 assault victims could not or did not identify their attacker

-- 42.6% (139 patients) were injured because of a motor vehicle crash

-- 21.5% (70 patients) were injured because of a fall

-- 10.7% (35 patients) were undocumented cases

Generally, assault was linked to mandible (jaw) fractures, zygomatic complex fractures (complicated breaks in the cheekbones), orbital blow-out fractures (cracks or breaks in bones surrounding the eye) and intracranial (brain) injury.

The researchers wrote "Specifically, higher than expected numbers of zygomatic complex fractures, orbital blow-out fractures and intracranial injuries were found in intimate partner violence victims. Victims assaulted by unknown or unidentified assailants were more likely to have mandible fractures than were other assault victims."

The authors added "Underreporting of intimate partner violence remains a hindrance to appropriate social intervention for many victims. While our study was limited to facial trauma victims, it demonstrates that universal screening and examination of the patterns of presentation, including patterns of injury, can assist medical professionals in identifying these patients and initiating appropriate medical and social intervention."

"Maxillofacial Injuries and Violence Against Women"

Oneida A. Arosarena, MD; Travis A. Fritsch, MS; Yichung Hsueh, MD; Behrad Aynehchi, MD; Richard Haug, DDS

Arch Facial Plast Surg. 2009;11[1]:48-52.

Why domestic violence victims don't leave | Leslie Morgan Steiner (Video Medical And Professional 2020).

Section Issues On Medicine: Women health