Pure orbital blowout fracture: new concepts and importance of medial orbital blowout fracture

Plast Reconstr Surg. 1999 Jun;103(7):1839-49. doi: 10.1097/00006534-199906000-00005.


Pure orbital blowout fracture first occurs at the weakest point of the orbital wall. Although the medial orbital wall theoretically should be involved more frequently than the orbital floor, the orbital floor has been reported as the most common site of pure orbital blowout fractures. A total of 82 orbits in 76 patients with pure orbital blowout fracture were evaluated with computed tomographic scans taken on all patients with any suspicious clinical evidence, including nasal fracture. Isolated medial wall fracture was most common (55 percent), followed by medial and inferior wall fracture (27 percent). The most common facial fracture associated with medial wall fracture was nasal fracture (51 percent), not inferior wall fracture (33 percent). This finding suggests that the force causing nasal fracture is an important causative factor of pure medial wall fracture as the buckling force from the medial orbital rim. Of patients with medial wall fractures, 25 percent had diplopia and 40 percent had enophthalmos. On plain radiographs, diagnostic signs were found in 79 percent of medial wall fractures and in 95 percent of inferior wall fractures. On computed tomographic scans, late enophthalmos was expected in 76 percent of medial wall fractures. Therefore, the medial orbital blowout fracture may be an important cause of late enophthalmos, because it has a high incidence of occurrence, a low diagnostic rate, and a high severity of defect. Among the causes of limitation of ocular motility, muscle traction of the connective septa and direct muscle injury were found frequently, but true incarceration of the muscle was extremely rare in all fractures. The medial and inferior orbital walls are clearly demarcated by the bony buttress, which is an important structure supporting these orbital walls. Its buttress was closely correlated with the fracture of these orbital walls. Most orbital blowout fractures without collapse of the bony buttress had a trapdoor fracture with or without small fragments of punched-out fracture.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Facial Bones / diagnostic imaging
  • Facial Bones / injuries
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Nasal Bone / diagnostic imaging
  • Nasal Bone / injuries
  • Orbit / diagnostic imaging
  • Orbital Fractures / classification
  • Orbital Fractures / complications
  • Orbital Fractures / diagnostic imaging*
  • Skull Fractures / diagnostic imaging
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed