Orbital compartment syndrome: the ophthalmic surgical emergency

Surv Ophthalmol. 2009 Jul-Aug;54(4):441-9. doi: 10.1016/j.survophthal.2009.04.005.


Orbital compartment syndrome is an uncommon, ophthalmic surgical emergency characterized by an acute rise in orbital pressure. When intraorbital tension rises, damage to ocular and other intraorbital structures, including irreversible blindness, may occur if not promptly treated. The diagnosis of orbital compartment syndrome is completely clinical and early recognition and emergent orbital decompression (even prior to imaging) is essential in preventing permanent vision loss. Lateral canthotomy and inferior cantholysis remain the mainstays of management. More extensive incision of the orbital septum and orbital bony decompression may be necessary in unresponsive cases. This review discusses the various etiologies and mechanisms resulting in orbital compartment syndrome, clinical features, imaging findings, treatment, and prognosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Compartment Syndromes / diagnosis
  • Compartment Syndromes / etiology
  • Compartment Syndromes / physiopathology
  • Compartment Syndromes / surgery*
  • Decompression, Surgical
  • Emergency Treatment*
  • Humans
  • Intraocular Pressure
  • Orbital Diseases / diagnosis
  • Orbital Diseases / etiology
  • Orbital Diseases / physiopathology
  • Orbital Diseases / surgery*
  • Pressure