Damage to soft tissues of the mouth, jaws, face, scalp and neck, after careful assessment, needs repair. Depending on the extent of the damage, very little other than cleansing of the wound(s) and some suitable dressing may be required.
At the other end of the scale, damage to soft tissues may be part of a life threatening emergency situation and require immediate major surgical interventions, including repair of broken bones where soft tissue damage occurs in combination with underlying bone fractures.
In an emergency situation, it is international best practice to follow standardised principles of trauma care (Advanced Trauma Life Support, ATLS). This system follows a logical sequence of care which is designed to maximise the efficiency of assessment of a trauma victim, as well as provide priority ranking of potential, life threatening problems and simultaneous resuscitative interventions.
Fortunately, most soft tissue injuries are not associated with life threatening circumstances and there will be no need to escalate the treatment actions to a fully blown ATLS response, but instead all necessary information will have been discussed and the course of actions for repair agreed.
Soft tissue wounds, after exploration, typically require one or some actions and considerations from the following list:
- treating haemorrhage (stopping bleeding)
- checking other structures (eyes, ears, salivary glands, bones)
- searching/checking for foreign bodies
- cleansing of the wound(s)
- closure of the wound(s) (strongly dependent on type, location and extent of damage)
- wound infections
Next section: Damage