Surgeons rebuild rider’s crushed face after horrific hacking accident

  • Elizabeth Calton facial reconstruction

    Nick Hyde and Elizabeth Calton after the successful facial reconstruction surgery

    Surgeons have successfully rebuilt the face of a rider who suffered serious injuries when she was trampled by her horse.

    Junior doctor Elizabeth Calton, a paediatric registrar who is currently studying for a PhD, was hacking in woods in October when her horse was spooked by a noise.

    She decided to dismount, but the horse panicked and ran across her, breaking nine ribs and multiple bones in her face.

    Passers-by dialled 999 and she was rushed to A&E at St George’s in Tooting, south London, where medics managed to stabalise her.

    Elizabeth had broken every bone between her palate and her eyes — both cheekbones, eye sockets, nose and her upper jaw, which had fractured into two pieces.

    Eight days later, Elizabeth underwent complex surgery to reconstruct her face, which had collapsed under the weight of her horse’s hoof.

    Elizabeth’s family provided staff with a photo of her face from before the accident so they knew what she should look like.

    A CT scan of Elizabeth’s face before surgery

    Nine surgeons and theatre staff used 41 screws and 11 plates in the 10-hour operation to rebuild her face.
    “The impact basically crushed the middle of my face backwards,” said Elizabeth.

    “I was incredibly lucky — both to have been discovered by passers-by, but also to be brought to St George’s, which has so many specialists in one place.

    “I had panda eye bruising and my face was so swollen I was hardly recognisable — so to be back on my feet now, looking back to how I was, is amazing.

    “I am grateful to everyone who looked after me — so many people were involved in my care.”

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    Elizabeth before the accident (above)

    Elizabeth on the road to recovery after her surgery


    Consultant maxillofacial surgeon Nick Hyde, who led the operation, said multiple facial injuries such as this are rare.

    “The surgery Elizabeth required was complex and labour-intensive,” he added.

    “However, the end result is very pleasing, and a credit to the many different people involved in her care.

    “The maxillofacial surgery we carried out was only possible thanks to the work of the ambulance team who transferred her, as well as our emergency department, cardiothoracic surgical colleagues, anaesthetists and nursing and allied healthcare clinicians who were critical to her recovery at St George’s. It was a real team effort.”

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