November 24, 2022

World Cup Soccer Player Wearing Face Mask After Facial Fracture

Son Heung Min

South Korean soccer star and captain, Son Heung Min, was seen wearing a face mask during the World Cup in Qatar in November 2022. This was due to an orbital facial fracture to his left eye during a Champions League match for Tottenham for which he had to undergo surgical correction. This fracture was sustained when his face collided with Marseille defender Chancel Mbemba. 

Another World Cup soccer player, Croatian Josko Gvardiol, also was seen sporting a face mask to protect a broken nose sustained after colliding with teammate Willi Orban. 

In regards to Son Heung Min, a face mask was worn in order to minimize risk of further injury to his recently repaired facial fracture.

Based on media reports, Son Heung Min likely suffered an orbital blow-out fracture whereby the thin bones surrounding the eye is fractured outward, most commonly the floor which supports the eye within the socket.

In this CT scan, you can see the fracture between the R eye and
R cheek sinus (left side being normal for comparison).

Most orbital floor fractures do not require any surgical repair as long as the eye is able to move freely in all directions without any double-vision. BUT, if the fracture results in the eye's muscle getting stuck thereby preventing eye movement, surgical repair is required, typically by placing a wire or bio-absorbable mesh over the fracture site.

In the image above of a different patient, the right eye is able to fully move upward... but the left eye is able to move upward only slightly. This results in double-vision on upward gaze. As such, this patient would require surgical repair. The other reasons why surgical repair may be required is if the orbital floor fracture is so large that the eye literally sinks down into the cheek resulting in double vision or if a hematoma has formed behind the eye causing the eye's pressure to become abnormally high.

This image shows a wire mesh placed to correct an orbital floor fracture. If the cheekbone has also been fractured (tripod fracture), plates with screws may also be required.

Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids.

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