Article Text

Download PDFPDF
The human bite injury: a clinical audit and discussion regarding the management of this alcohol fuelled phenomenon
  1. Francis P Henry,
  2. Elizabeth M Purcell,
  3. Patricia A Eadie
  1. Department of Plastic, Reconstructive and Hand Surgery, St James’s Hospital, Dublin, Ireland
  1. Correspondence to:
 Francis P Henry
 One Emerson Place, Apt 7A, Boston, MA 02114, USA; fhenry{at}


Background: Human bite injuries are both deceptive and challenging in their presentation and management. They remain a frequent presentation to our unit, most often following late night alcohol fuelled aggression.

Aims: To audit the management of these wounds, with particular focus on infective complications and outcomes.

Methods: A three year retrospective chart review was undertaken on all patients referred to the plastic surgery unit from 1 January 2003 through to 31 December 2005.

Results: A total of 92 patients with 96 human bite wounds were identified. The majority were male (92%). Alcohol consumption was documented in 86% of cases. The majority (70%) occurred over the weekend or on a public holiday. Facial injuries made up 70% of injuries with the remainder being to the upper limb. The ear was the most common target of all facial injuries (65%). Infection was documented in 18 cases (20%), with bite injuries to the upper limb and those presenting late (>12 h) having a higher incidence of infection.

Conclusions: Human bite wounds present a challenge to any emergency department, given the many issues involved in their management. Underestimation of the complexity and potential sequelae of these wounds will result in a suboptimal outcome for the patient.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • There are no competing interests involved in this study.

  • Informed consent was obtained for publication of fig 3