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Le Fort fracture classification

Le Fort fractures are fractures of the midface, which collectively involve separation of all or a portion of the midface from the skull base. In order to be separated from the skull base the pterygoid plates of the sphenoid bone need to be involved as these connect the midface to the sphenoid bone dorsally. The Le Fort classification system attempts to distinguish according to the plane of injury.

Classification

The commonly used classification is as follows:

  • Le Fort type 1
    • horizontal maxillary fracture, separating the teeth from the upper face
    • fracture line passes through the alveolar ridge, lateral nose and inferior wall of maxillary sinus
  • Le Fort type 2
    • pyramidal fracture, with the teeth at the pyramid base, and nasofrontal suture at its apex
    • fracture arch passes through posterior alveolar ridge, lateral walls of maxillary sinuses, inferior orbital rim and nasal bones
  • Le Fort type 3
    • craniofacial disjunction
    • fracture line passes through nasofrontal suture, maxillo-frontal suture, orbital wall and zygomatic arch

A memory aid is:

  • le Fort 1 is a floating palate
  • le Fort 2 is a floating maxilla
  • le Fort 3 is a floating face

Any combination is possible. For example there may be type 2 on one side and type 3 on the other or there may be type 1 and type 2 on the same side.

History and etymology

They are named after René Le Fort, French surgeon (1869-1951). Legend has it Le Fort did his work by dropping cannon balls on cadaver heads and then dissecting the results.

Practical points

  • fracture of the pterygoid plates is mandatory to diagnose Le Fort fractures
  • if the anterolateral margins of the nasal fossa are intact it excludes a type 1 fracture
  • if the infraorbital rims are intact it excludes a type 2 fracture
  • if the zygomatic arch is intact it excludes a type 3 fracture

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