Management of orbital trauma and foreign bodies

Otolaryngol Clin North Am. 1988 Feb;21(1):35-52.


Blunt and penetrating trauma to the orbital region can have a devastating effect both functionally and cosmetically for the orbit. Penetrating injuries to the orbit should be suspected whenever there is a history of trauma to the regions of the eyelids. Meticulous inspection of the eyelids and globe should be undertaken, and if there is any suspicion of a foreign body retained within the orbital soft tissues, then a CT scan should be obtained. It is possible that the foreign body is not opaque, and exploration of the soft tissues may be indicated. Blow-out fractures of the orbit should be explored and repaired when the evidence clearly indicates that a blow-out is present. This includes the clinical presence of diplopia, evidence of muscle entrapment with forced duction testing, and CT scan showing orbital wall fracture with explosion of the orbital contents into the paranasal sinuses. If these signs or symptoms are equivocable, then a waiting period of 10 to 14 days is indicated to rule out the presence of a nerve palsy, which should improve. However, a CT scan showing a large blow-out defect of the orbit should be repaired regardless of the clinical signs at the time because of the late sequelae of enophthalmos and hypophthalmos. It is very difficult to secondarily repair an orbit that is contracted owing to loss of volume from an orbital blow-out fracture. Procedures of this sort involve the reintroduction of autogenous fat into the orbital contents and are very difficult technically. Although orbital fractures should not be routinely explored, each should be viewed with its own merit and an aggressive approach developed if there is clinical evidence of a blow-out fracture.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Eye Foreign Bodies / therapy*
  • Eye Injuries / etiology
  • Humans
  • Hyphema / etiology
  • Orbit / injuries*
  • Orbital Fractures / complications
  • Orbital Fractures / diagnosis
  • Orbital Fractures / surgery
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / complications
  • Wounds, Penetrating / complications