Surgical Treatment of Orbital Blowout Fractures: Complications and Postoperative Care Patterns

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Orbital fractures are a common result of facial trauma. Sequelae and indications for repair include enophthalmos and/or diplopia from extraocular muscle entrapment. Alloplastic implant placement with careful release of periorbital fat and extraocular muscles can effectively restore extraocular movements, orbital integrity, and anatomic volume. However, rare but devastating complications such as retrobulbar hematoma (RBH) can occur after repair, which pose a risk of permanent vision loss if not addressed emergently. For this reason, some surgeons take the precaution of admitting patients for 24-hour postoperative vision checks, while others do not. The incidence of postoperative RBH has not been previously reported and existing data are limited to case reports. Our aim was to examine national trends in postoperative management and to report the incidence of immediate postoperative complications at our institution following orbital repair. A retrospective assessment of orbital blowout fractures was undertaken to assess immediate postoperative complications including RBH. Only patients treated by a senior surgeon in the Department of Otolaryngology were included in the review. In addition, we surveyed AO North America (AONA) Craniomaxillofacial faculty to assess current trends in postoperative management. There were 80 patients treated surgically for orbital blowout fractures over a 9.5-year period. Nearly all patients were observed overnight (74%) or longer (25%) due to other trauma. Average length of stay was 17 hours for those observed overnight. There was one (1.3%) patient with RBH, who was treated and recovered without sequelae. Results of the survey indicated that a majority (64%) of responders observe postoperative patients overnight. Twenty-nine percent of responders indicated that they send patients home the same day of surgery. Performance of more than 20 orbital repairs annually significantly increased the likelihood that faculty would manage patients on an outpatient basis postoperatively (p = 0.04). For orbital blowout fractures, the number of immediate postoperative complications at our institution is low. In addition, North American trends in postoperative management of orbital blowout fractures may suggest that selected patients can be managed on an outpatient basis, which would have a positive effect on conservation of diminishing healthcare resources.

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