11. A Facial Fracture – 1972 THE BEGINNING

Saturday on facial  trauma call at the University of Alabama , Birmingham is never dull. Today was no exception. I was expecting the transfer of a patient with a simple fracture of the Zygoma. When the patient arrived he had a fracture of the Zygomatic bone, an entirely different facial bone, one fraught with significant risk and complications. Although the bones are adjacent to one another,look and sound similar, they are two different entities and should not be confused.


A fractured Zygoma requires a short procedure with local anesthesia in the emergency room,while a Zygomatic fracture requires general anesthesia,several hours surgery,two incisions, interosseous wiring, exploration of the orbital floor, and several days hospitalization with an extensive follow up.

My frustration and disappointment with this error of anatomic communication made me realize how mistakes of a more serious nature could occur when anatomical terminology is not exacting and precise. Although this patients outcome was not affected, I was! The experience prompted my research into the origin of the term Zygoma in hopes to understand the error and how future errors could be prevented. I had no indication anything more was in store for me than clarification of the use of an anatomical term. Nothing could be farther from the truth as you will see.


End Entry # 11


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