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nose fracture

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Nasal fracture

Alternative Names 
nasal bone fracture, broken nose

A nose fracture is a break in the nasal bone. Though most of the nose is made of cartilage, a soft spongy material, the upper portion of the nose has a bone underneath it called the nasal bone. A nose fracture usually occurs after an injury to the face.

What are the signs and symptoms of the injury? 
  • nasal pain
  • nasal bleeding
  • nasal swelling
  • nasal deformity
  • black eyes on both sides
  • inability to breath through the nose
What are the causes and risks of the injury? 
Blows to the side of the nose are often responsible for the fracture. A direct blow to the front of the nose or even a blow from below may cause a nasal bone fracture. Risk of a nose fracture increases with a previous nose injury.

What can be done to prevent the injury? 
Sports safety guidelines should be followed by adults, adolescents, and children. Protective face wear should be worn while playing sports. Seat belts should be worn whenever a person is riding in a car. Avoiding trauma to the face helps to prevent this injury.

How is the injury recognised? 
A doctor can diagnose a nose fracture based by asking about recent trauma to the nose and by physical examination of the nose. If the fracture is not obvious, x-ray films may be taken to check for a nose fracture.

What are the treatments for the injury? 
First, any bleeding must be controlled. This can usually be done by packing the nose with gauze or cotton. If the fracture is brought to a doctor's attention early, he or she can attempt to reset the bones. Otherwise, the swelling interferes with immediate treatment and the person must wait about 5 days before the bones can be reset. Antibiotics may be given during or after this time to prevent infection.

In most cases, local anaesthesia is applied to the inside of the nose to numb it. Special probes are inserted into the nose to lift the broken nasal bones back into place. After the bones are set, the gauze or cotton may need to be repacked. More complicated injuries may require a surgeon to cut into the skin at the front of the nose. Through this skin incision, the surgeon can piece the bones back together with special tools. Sometimes a person needs to wear a special device on the outside of the nose to help the nose heal properly. Plastic surgery may be required at a later time to fix any cosmetic problems.

What are the side effects of the treatments? 
All surgery involves the risks of bleeding and infection. Antibiotics have side effects, such as stomach upset and allergic reactions.

What happens after treatment for the injury? 
Unless the injury is severe, a person is able to go back to their normal routine almost immediately.

Author: Adam Brochert, MD
Reviewer: eknowhow Medical Review Panel
Editor: Dr John Hearne
Last Updated: 17/10/2004
Potential conflict of interest information for reviewers available on request

This website and article is not a substitute for independent professional advice. Nothing contained in this website is intended to be used as medical advice and it is not intended to be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes or as a substitute for your own health professional's advice.  All Health and any associated parties do not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information.


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