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.
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