Naso-orbitoethmoid (NOE) complex fracture

Last revised by Grace Carpenter on 30 Dec 2022

Naso-orbitoethmoid (NOE) fractures (also known as orbitoethmoid or nasoethmoidal complex fractures) are fractures which involve the central upper midface.

Naso-orbitoethmoid fractures are caused by a high-impact force applied anteriorly to the nose and transmitted posteriorly through the ethmoid bone.

Associated injuries include:

Comminution of both nasomaxillary buttresses results in a pattern of fractures involving the nasal bones and septum, ethmoid sinuses, and medial orbital walls.

The Markowitz and Manson classification system categorizes fractures of the NOE complex as follows 3:

  • type I: in which the medial canthal tendon is intact and connected to a single large fracture fragment

  • type II: the fracture is comminuted, and the medial canthal tendon is attached to a single bone fragment

  • type III: comminution extends to the medial canthal tendon insertion site on the anterior medial orbital wall at the level of the lacrimal fossa, with resultant avulsion of the tendon

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