Maxillofacial Management of Bear Mauling Victims

The next time you’re in Eastern India, be careful. Apparently, bear attacks are a common thing for the locals. They’re so common, that a university in Cuttack saw a need to assess their methods for treating bear mauling attacks. The wide selection of traditional methods had often left mixed results, some less esthetically favorable than the others. But modern techniques have proven to minimize damage drastically.

The study was conducted by the Sriram Chandra Bhanja Dental College in India. Bear attacks often result in severe damage to craniofacial and neck regions of the body. Careful management of torn tissue (soft and hard) and implementation of a reconstructive plan is top priority in every case. The college’s Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery reviewed 20 separate cases over a seven year period. To heal severe tissue damage, surgery was performed through various methods, including the use of free tissue transfer flaps. By transplanting living tissue from one area of the body to another, surgeons all over the world have facilitated once complex procedures.

The researchers focused their attention on soft and hard tissue injuries, tears, and tissue loss and wanted to develop a corresponding management plan for the craniofacial area. The researchers didn’t only evaluate tissue damage. They also documented the risks from infection, organ damage, and all corresponding complications.

Multiple variances of dental treatment were evaluated when treating patients who required tissue repair and free tissue transfers. Seventy five percent of these cases required primary repairs. The remaining cases focused on management through reconstruction with the use of local, regional or distant flaps and free tissue transfers. Free tissue flaps are capable of replacing the damaged tissue due to direct vascular supply and outflow. Flaps can be attained through various tissues including skin, fascia, muscle and bone. The surgeons first managed the primary closure of the wounds, used a skin graft, expanded the tissue, and inserted local, regional and distant flaps. Out of the twenty cases, infection was not detected.

The study concluded that an assortment of reconstruction dental techniques are required to manage injuries of the maxillofacial region from bear attacks. The researchers relied heavily on modern reconstructive practices such as free tissue transfer to manage severe damage and provide dramatic improvements.

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