Traumatic orbital compartment syndrome: Importance of the lateral canthomy and cantholysis

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Abstract

Background:

Orbital compartment syndrome (OCS) is an ophthalmic emergency that requires urgent surgical decompression to preserve vision.

Objective:

To describe the clinical presentation, management and outcomes for patients with traumatic OCS.

Methods:

Retrospective case series of eight patients with OCS secondary to blunt trauma presenting to the Royal Adelaide Hospital between 2004 and 2013.

Results:

All patients had acute, painful decrease in visual acuity and proptosis. Common examination findings included a relative afferent pupillary defect, periorbital oedema, ophthalmoparesis and chemosis. All patients underwent surgical decompression in the form of a lateral canthotomy or cantholysis. Three patients who were decompressed within 2 h after injury recovered fully. One patient who sustained a macular hole at the time of injury recovered four lines of Snellen acuity after being decompressed within 1 h. Another patient recovered three lines of Snellen acuity after undergoing decompression at 2.5 h post-injury. The remaining patients had minimal visual recovery, with postoperative visual acuities ranging from hand movements to no perception to light. Of these patients, one was decompressed at 2 h, while the remaining underwent decompression at 4 and 6 h post-injury.

Conclusions:

Prompt decompression is essential for visual recovery in OCS, which appears maximal if performed within 2 h of injury. All patients presenting with history and examination findings suggestive of OCS should undergo emergency canthotomy and cantholysis prior to any additional investigations to minimise visual loss.

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