Lower Eyelid Complications in Facial Fracture Surgery

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Facial fractures may lead to sequelae due to the trauma but also as a result of surgery. Complications to lower eyelid incisions include ectropion, scleral show, entropion, canthal malposition, and lid edema. The aim of this study was to compare the occurrence of such complications depending on whether a subciliary or transconjunctival incision was used for surgical access.


All consecutive patients surgically treated for a facial fracture between June 2005 and December 2012 with a lower eyelid incision and a minimal follow-up of 6 months were included in this retrospective study. Patients were grouped according to type of lower eyelid incision (transconjunctival vs subciliary).


Out of 128 patients, 37 (29%) had a subciliary and 91 (71%) had a transconjunctival incision. In the subciliary incision group, 3 patients (8.1%) had ectropion and 4 patients (11%) had scleral show whereas 2 patients (2.2%) had ectropion, 4 patients (4.4%) had scleral show, and 2 patients (2.2%) displayed canthal malposition in the transconjunctival incision group. The differences between the groups were not statistically significant. No patient had an entropion.


Subciliary incisions had a higher incidence of ectropion and scleral show compared with transconjunctival incisions. Transconjunctival incisions did show a low risk of canthal malposition needing surgical correction; however, the actual numbers were low. Based on this and earlier studies, the authors routinely perform transconjunctival incisions, without a lateral canthotomy if possible, for surgery of facial fractures.

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