Case Series: Herpes Zoster Ophthalmicus with Acute Orbital Inflammation

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Herpes zoster ophthalmicus (HZO) has variable initial manifestations, and acute orbital inflammation may be the first sign without apparent zoster rash. This case series is significant for presenting diverse clinical features and treatment options of HZO with acute orbital inflammation.


To report a case series of patients diagnosed as HZO with acute orbital inflammation including two cases with unique presentations.


Medical records of four patients of HZO with acute orbital inflammation were reviewed. Two men and two women with a median age of 57 years (range, 32 to 69 years) were diagnosed as having HZO with acute orbital inflammation. Initial presentations included two cases of zoster rash and two cases of orbital pain preceding vesicles. Clinical orbital findings included proptosis, ptosis, ophthalmoplegia, and decreased visual acuity. Orbital magnetic resonance image showed enlarged extraocular muscle with enhancement and optic nerve sheath enhancement in all four patients, and unilateral dacryoadenitis in one patient. All four patients were administered with systemic steroid, three patients received intravenous acyclovir, and one patient received oral acyclovir. Orbital signs improved in all patients over several months.


Herpes zoster ophthalmicus may initially present with orbital inflammatory signs, such as acute orbital myositis, perioptic neuritis, or dacryoadenitis, without zoster rash. Physicians should be aware of acute orbital inflammation as a presenting sign of HZO.

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