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What is a Le Fort fracture?

If your face hits a stationary object during a car accident, such as the steering wheel or dashboard of a car, you may be in danger of sustaining a Le Fort fracture. According to University of Iowa Health Care, Le Fort fractures include specific fractures of the bones of the face. 

Le Fort fractures can occur along any of three transverse weak lines through the midfacial skull. In 1901, a doctor named Rene Le Fort discovered these lines when studying anatomy with the use of cadavers. He lent his name to the fractures that can occur along these weak lines. 

There are three different categories of Le Fort fractures on the basis of where they occur on the face and named with Roman numerals. The highest level of Le Fort fracture is the Le Fort III fracture, which separates the base of the skull from the upper jaw. Le Fort I fractures occur on the lowest level and result in the separation of the upper jaw from the hard palate. In between the lowest and highest levels are Le Fort II fractures, which transect the nasal bones. 

Le Fort fractures at any level can obstruct your airway. Therefore, it is necessary for the physician treating you to make sure your airway is clear and you are able to breathe before continuing the physical examination. If you have a Le Fort III fracture, it may affect the bones surrounding your eyes, so it is important for the doctor to test your visual acuity. The doctor will also assess the symmetry of your facial bones, your teeth and your bite. 

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.

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