Delayed immediate surgery for orbital floor fractures: Less can be more

Tang, David T.; Lalonde, Jan F.; Lalonde, Donald H.
December 2011
Canadian Journal of Plastic Surgery;Winter2011, Vol. 19 Issue 4, p125
Academic Journal
Orbital floor fractures can result in diplopia, enophthalmos, hypoglobus and infraorbital dysthesia. Currently, the most common treatment for orbital floor fractures is immediate surgical intervention. However, there are a number of well-documented cases of unoperated orbital floor fractures in the literature, culminating in diplopia or enophthalmos in few patients. Of these, none reported the diplopia or enophthalmos to be bothersome. As reported previously in the ophthalmology literature, most orbital floor fracture-induced diplopia resolves as the swelling settles, and the few patients with remaining diplopia can successfully be treated with surgery on the uninvolved eye. It has also been commented that most patients with enophthalmos are asymptomatic. The authors' institution has more than 50 surgeon-years experience with delaying immediate surgery for two weeks to allow time for the swelling-induced diplopia to resolve. In the authors' experience, true entrapment of the inferior rectus muscle is rare. The present article describes a study of late follow-up (average 945 days) of 11 nonoperated patients with orbital floor fractures. In the eight patients who initially presented with diplopia, there was resolution of functionally limiting double vision. Only one patient had asymptomatic, but measurably significant, enophthalmos at -3 mm. All patients had full restoration of extraocular movements and resolution of infraorbital dysthesia. None of the patients were exposed to the operative risks of ectropion, infection, implant extrusion, bleeding or blindness. The present study provides level IV evidence that delaying surgery up to two weeks after orbital floor fracture may avoid unnecessary surgical risks and inconveniences in many patients with orbital floor fracture.


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