Management of pediatric orbital cellulitis: A systematic review

Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2018 Jul:110:123-129. doi: 10.1016/j.ijporl.2018.05.006. Epub 2018 May 8.


Objectives: Orbital complications account for 74-85% of all complications from acute sinusitis, more often affect the pediatric population, and can result in devastating consequences. Therefore these patients require prompt diagnosis and proper management. We review and summarize the current literature to determine the appropriate management of each stage of pediatric orbital cellulitis and offer a new comprehensive literature-based algorithm.

Methods: Data sources were PubMed/MEDLINE, and Google Scholar. Studies relevant to the management of each subcategory of the Chandler criteria in the pediatric population, limited to the period 1997 through Jan 2018, were compiled and interpreted. Seventy-one studies were reviewed in total.

Results: Pre-septal and post-septal cellulitis can generally be managed non-surgically, while orbital abscess and cavernous sinus thrombosis are managed surgically. For subperiosteal abscess, non-surgical medical management has been successful in certain patients. Results of the literature review were summarized, and subsequently developed into a comprehensive algorithm for management, including criteria for age, location, and volume of abscess on imaging.

Conclusions: Orbital cellulitis, particularly subperiosteal abscesses, in children is not an absolute indication for immediate surgical intervention. Conservative measures can be safe and effective if appropriately used, depending on patient characteristics, clinical course, and imaging.

Keywords: Cavernous sinus thrombosis; Intraconal or orbital abscess; Management; Orbital cellulitis; Pediatric; Subperiosteal abscess.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Abscess / drug therapy
  • Abscess / surgery
  • Acute Disease
  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Algorithms*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cavernous Sinus Thrombosis / surgery
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Orbital Cellulitis / drug therapy*
  • Orbital Cellulitis / etiology
  • Orbital Cellulitis / surgery*
  • Sinusitis / complications


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents