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14.01.2018 | Original Article | Ausgabe 1/2018

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery 1/2018

Human bite injuries to the head and neck: current trends and management protocols in England and Wales

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery > Ausgabe 1/2018
Glyndwr W. Jenkins, Robert Isaac, Shakir Mustafa
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s10006-018-0670-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



Human bite injuries can be challenging in their presentation to the examining physician. In a study by Merchant et al., 18% of patients presenting with a human bite injury had suffered wounds to the head and neck region. Current trends in their initial management at presentation to emergency departments throughout England and Wales will be discussed in this paper.

Materials and method

A postal survey was sent out to 100 A&E lead clinicians. This was followed up by telephone enquiries to improve the response rate. The collated results of the survey were entered onto a spreadsheet (Microsoft Excel©) for the purpose of statistical review.


A 68% response rate from A&E departments throughout England and Wales demonstrated a lack of consensus in the initial management and subsequent treatment of human bite injuries. Written protocols are in place for human bite injuries in 54.4% of units. In 100% of units, initial management involves irrigation +/− debridement of the wound, though there is a lack of agreement on the surgical management of the wound. 77.9% of units follow ‘needle stick protocols’ when stratifying risk for blood-borne viruses.


Human bites pose a number of unique problems, ranging from cellulitis to the transmission of communicable diseases. The maxillofacial surgeon has the added dilemmas surrounding subsequent repair and reconstruction. Appreciation of the complexity of human bite injuries will ensure optimal care for the patient. We propose a set of guidelines developed ‘in-house’ to assist in the management of human bite injuries.

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