Le Fort Fractures
Other Known Aliases – transfacial fracture of the midface
Definition – These fractures involve the maxillary bone and are graded based on their direction and involvement of surrounding structures. The key distinguishing feature of this type of fracture is separation of the pterygoid plates from the maxillary sinuses.
Clinical Significance – Continuity of the pterygoid plates is essential for midface structural stability and any disruption requires surgical fixation. There are three types of Le Fort fractures:
- Type I – Horizontal fracture – involves the lateral bony margin of the nasal opening
- Type II – Pyramidal fracture – involves the inferior orbital rim
- Type III – Transverse fracture – involves the zygomatic arch, vomer, and across the orbital floor and walls
History – Named after René Le Fort (1869-1951), who was a French surgeon and received his medical doctorate at the age of 21 while serving in the French military. He taught and practice in Lille, France for the majority of his career. He served his country numerous times when called to serve as a military physician, as well as coming out of retirement during World War II to teach at the University of Lille to replace colleagues called to the war effort. He published the findings of his eponymous conditions in 1901 in a treatise entitled “Étude expérimentale sur les fractures de la mâchoire supérieure”, where he described his experiments of dropping cannon balls from varying directions and heights on the faces of cadavers to describe the predictable injury patterns
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