Does Bone Swell after a fall? Taking a CT Scan after a fall.
February 2, 2015 7:50 AM   Subscribe

I'm supposed to take a CT scan tomorrow (the supposedly lower radiation cone beam one) to check to see the symmetry of the jaws. But I hit my chin really badly last night and my face is all swollen now. I'm not sure if only soft tissue swells after a fall or if bone is affected too. Will this affect the result of the scan? Will my Jaws line up differently than normal on the scan due to swelling?
posted by rancher to Science & Nature (8 answers total)
No. Have you ever held a skull or touched a skeleton? (Like in a science class?) Bone is like that in your body too. Bone is a hard surface and it does not swell. The soft tissue swelling will be visible on CT scan.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 8:12 AM on February 2, 2015 [3 favorites]

There are tendons and ligaments holding your bones in place. So if your jaw is partially dislocated (subluxed) or dislocated, it will be from the original injury. Often you may feel that your teeth aren't lining up correctly if your jaw is dislocated.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 8:16 AM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

I don't know, when I got a stress fracture in my foot, the podiatrist pointed it out on the X-ray by calling it a slight swelling. Not sure how a bruised or minorly fractured bone would look on CT scan. I think you need to call your doctor's office and ask them what to do, though. If the scan is for diagnosing TMJ, or getting some kind of baseline reading of your normal bite to plan for some kind of future intervention, they may need to postpone until the swelling subsides.
posted by oh yeah! at 8:41 AM on February 2, 2015

Response by poster: The thing that confuses me is that - if soft tissues like the tendons and such hold the bones in place then wouldn't their swelling up change slightly how the bones are held in place? ie- moving them a little from their usual position? I'm wondering if I should reschedule this thing. But maybe I'm just overthinking.
posted by rancher at 8:42 AM on February 2, 2015

You could call your doctor, or the CT facility, and ask.
posted by blurker at 8:52 AM on February 2, 2015 [4 favorites]

You're overthinking. Swelling of soft tissues should not be enough to dislocate your jaw to any significant degree. It requires direct impact with significant force.

As to oh yeah's point, a small/impacted fracture can look like a swelling on an X-ray, but it is not actual swelling of a bone, it is just an irregularity of the surface created by a fracture. Or, if it's been a while since the fracture, the healing bone can look like a swelling, but the bone cannot be swollen - try to imagine a tooth swelling, for example - it is solid. Bone can change shape but not swell.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 9:25 AM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

The swelling of your face muscles can affect the way your jaw bone sits relative to the rest of your skull. It won't affect the shape of your jaw bone. Whether the doctor decides to reschedule may depend on what the purpose of the CT scan was. "to see the symmetry of the jaws" could mean to look at the shape of the jawbone (ok, no problem) or to look at the symmetry of your overall face structure when the jawbone is sitting naturally (in which case you should probably reschedule). Call them up and tell them your condition, and see what they say.
posted by aimedwander at 9:35 AM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

On second thought, blurker is right - just call the doctor who ordered the scan. They'll be best positioned to tell you whether your injury could be an issue, because they know what they're looking for. It sounds like you're not getting it done to evaluate for trauma.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 9:36 AM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

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