The facial skeleton consists of high-stress-bearing buttresses and low-stress-bearing curved surfaces. The buttresses are like trusses made of beams, struts, and columns. They resist tensile, compressive, and shear loading. The thin, curved, planar surfaces provide for the support and partitioning of the soft tissue. The trusses are strong and one-dimensional whereas the planes are weak and two-dimensional. Ideally, strong one-dimensional fixation systems should be used for the former; weaker, two-dimensional systems should be used for the latter. The authors report their clinical experience of using such combined approaches to the treatment of facial fractures using rigid, titanium mini-plates and screws for the buttresses and polymeric resorbable meshes for the curved planes. For an 11-month period (August 2000 to June 2001), nine patients (7 males and 2 females) with a mean age of 33.7 years were treated in this fashion. The resorbable meshes were deployed for the reconstitution of the orbital walls and the anterior wall of the maxillary sinus. No enophthalmos, globe dystopia, or diplopia occured during the short mean follow-up of 10 months (4-17 months). There were no infections or sterile abscess formations. This type of combined use of fixation systems appears to be safe and effective. More patients and more extensive follow-ups are obviously needed.
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