Death associated with an indwelling orbital catheter

Ophthalmic Plast Reconstr Surg. 2003 Sep;19(5):398-400. doi: 10.1097/01.IOP.0000087030.65206.3D.


We report a case of a 38-year-old woman who underwent revision of an orbital implant. A flexible indwelling orbital catheter was placed for postoperative anesthesia. Marcaine, administered to the patient through the 5.25-inch catheter while the patient was at home, led to respiratory arrest. After unsuccessful resuscitation, the patient died. At autopsy, it was noted that the catheter passed through the superior orbital fissure, with evidence of injection of marcaine in the subarachnoid space. This patient had signs and symptoms of Stickler syndrome. This leads us to believe that deficiencies in collagen II led to a weakness of the connective tissue surrounding the superior orbital fissure, leading to facilitated passage of the catheter into the subarachnoid space. This may be the first report of this type of outcome when using indwelling catheters for ophthalmic surgery. We recommend that placement of orbital indwelling catheters be performed in a controlled hospital setting.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anesthesia, Local / methods
  • Anesthetics, Local / adverse effects
  • Bupivacaine / adverse effects
  • Catheters, Indwelling / adverse effects*
  • Fatal Outcome
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Orbit / injuries*
  • Orbital Implants
  • Pain, Postoperative / drug therapy
  • Reoperation
  • Subarachnoid Space / drug effects
  • Subarachnoid Space / injuries*


  • Anesthetics, Local
  • Bupivacaine