Penetrating trauma of the oropharynx is not an uncommon problem in the pediatric population. Innocuous injuries with minor soft-tissue trauma have been associated with severe neurologic sequelae. A review of 77 oral trauma cases that occurred from 1981 to 1990 at Boston Children's Hospital was undertaken to see if constant factors could be identified so that a treatment protocol might be outlined for these patients. Twenty-three (30%) patients sustained injury to the soft palate and peritonsillar area. Fifty percent of these cases required surgical debridement and repair. None of the 23 patients developed neurological sequelae. Physical examination may not correlate with the development of symptoms nor the mechanism of injury. Care should be taken during the examination to identify any neurological problems that may not relate to the degree of injury. Conservative management can be entertained if no abnormal neurologic findings are noted.
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