South African Medical Journal

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Human bites of the face

Midion M Chidzonga


Objective. To compare experience with human bites of the face in a unit in Harare, Zimbabwe, with other similar studies in respect of reasons for the assaults, age and sex of the patients, timespan between injury and treatment, surgical management and incidence of infection.

Design. Prospective study.

Setting. Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Outpatients Clinic, Harare Central Hospital, Harare, Zimbabwe.

Patients. Twenty-two consecutive patients with human bites of the face.

Main outcome measures. The black female is the predominant victim and assailant, with the lower lip most commonly involved.

Results. Of the patients 81.8% were female. The mean age was 32.5 years. Interpersonal violence was the commonest cause of the injury, with the lower lip involved in 90.9% of cases. Early presentation reduces the risk of infection.

Conclusion. The results indicate that the black female predominates both as victim and assailant. Early presentation with thorough surgical debridement under antibiotic cover produces satisfactory results.

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