Predictors of nonrecovery in acute traumatic sixth nerve palsy and paresis

Ophthalmology. 2001 Aug;108(8):1457-60. doi: 10.1016/s0161-6420(01)00633-9.


Purpose: To evaluate whether nonrecovery from acute traumatic sixth nerve palsy could be predicted from demographic factors or palsy characteristics.

Design: Prospective, observational case series

Setting: Multicenter (academic and private practices).

Outcome measure: Nonrecovery, defined as the presence of diplopia in primary position or more than 10 prism diopters of distance esotropia in primary position at 6 months after onset.

Methods: Using data from a previously described cohort of 84 eligible patients with acute traumatic sixth nerve palsy, we performed multivariate analyses of demographic factors and palsy characteristics.

Results: Nonrecovery at 6 months after onset was associated with a complete palsy (adjusted risk ratio, 9.11; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.77-14.84) and with a bilateral palsy or paresis (adjusted risk ratio, 2.53; 95% CI, 0.98-4.29). The choice of conservative management (observation, prism, or patch) versus acute injection of Botulinum toxin (within 3 months of injury) did not influence final recovery.

Conclusions: In acute traumatic sixth nerve palsy or paresis, failure to recover by 6 months after onset was associated independently with inability to abduct past midline at presentation and bilaterality. Although the overall recovery rate is high in acute traumatic sixth nerve palsy or paresis, a complete or bilateral case has a poor prognosis and is more likely to need strabismus surgery.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Abducens Nerve Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Abducens Nerve Diseases / drug therapy
  • Abducens Nerve Diseases / physiopathology
  • Abducens Nerve Injury / diagnosis*
  • Abducens Nerve Injury / drug therapy
  • Abducens Nerve Injury / physiopathology
  • Acute Disease
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-Dyskinesia Agents / therapeutic use
  • Botulinum Toxins / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diplopia / diagnosis*
  • Diplopia / drug therapy
  • Diplopia / physiopathology
  • Esotropia / diagnosis*
  • Esotropia / drug therapy
  • Esotropia / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Recovery of Function
  • Risk Factors


  • Anti-Dyskinesia Agents
  • Botulinum Toxins