Maxillofacial Injuries Sustained During Military Peace Keeping Mission in Liberia: The Nigerian Experience (1990-1997)
Keywords:maxillofacial injuries, armed conflicts, Liberia, Nigerians
Objective: Armed conflicts often cause maxillofacial injuries that could be challenging to manage. These injuries are often disproportionate to the relationship between the maxillofacial region and the entire body. Between 1990 and 1997, Nigerian soldiers were involved in military operations during the Liberian Civil War as part of a subregional intervention force. The aim of this paper is to review some characteristics of the maxillofacial injuries sustained by Nigerian soldiers as seen at a tertiary referral hospital with a view to drawing lessons for future management of maxillofacial and other casualties in the West African subregion.
Methods: Retrospective review of hospital records of patients evacuated from Liberia from 1991 to 1997 was undertaken. Data was collected on demographics, sites of injuries, treatment received and discharge details.
Results: Sixty one patients were seen, all males, between age 21-53years, most (57.4%) were between 21-29years of age. There were more soft tissue and dentoalveolar injuries (60.6%) than facial bone fractures (39.4%). Soft tissue injuries were debrided with secondary suturing while most fractures were treated by closed reduction and immobilisation. Most patients (98.4%) were successfully treated while one patient died.
Conclusion: Maxillofacial injuries sustained during the conflict were mostly of soft tissues and most were treated successfully, This study showed the need for the deployment of maxillofacial trauma registries during armed conflicts for proper documentation victims and for maxillofacial surgeons to be included in combat surgical teams to ensure prompt and adequate treatment of patients closer to the point of wounding.