Orbital Compartment Syndrome Following Major Burn Resuscitation: A Case Series and Survey of Practice Patterns

J Burn Care Res. 2021 Mar 4;42(2):193-199. doi: 10.1093/jbcr/iraa126.


Orbital compartment syndrome (OCS) is a rare but devastating complication of over-resuscitation in burn patients that may lead to permanent visual loss. The purpose of this study was to 1) present a series of burn patients with OCS and 2) survey practice patterns of monitoring intra-ocular pressure (IOP) during burn resuscitation. Cases of OCS at two American Burn Association (ABA)-verified burn centers were retrospectively reviewed. Patients were included if they 1) required lateral canthotomy/cantholysis for elevated IOPs or 2) developed blindness on admission unrelated to any other ocular pathology. Data were collected on demographics, burn characteristics, fluid administration, ophthalmologic findings, and complications. An eight-item electronic survey was distributed by email through the ABA to all physician members. Twelve patients with OCS were identified, with a mean age of 47.8 ± 12.4 years and TBSA of 63.7 ± 18.6%. Mean fluid resuscitation at 24 hours was 4.9 ± 1.6 ml/kg/%TBSA or 0.29 ± 0.06 liter/kg. Eight patients underwent canthotomy/cantholysis for OCS, whereas four were later found to have visual loss. A total of 83 (14%) ABA physicians responded to the survey. IOP was routinely measured by 23% of respondents during acute burn resuscitation. OCS appears to have developed despite a relatively low 24-hour ml/kg/% burn resuscitation volume, but with a relatively higher cumulative (liter/kg) fluid volume. Their survey found that monitoring of IOP during burn resuscitation is not routinely performed by the majority of providers. Taken together, the present study suggests clinical guidelines to recognize this complication of over-resuscitation.

MeSH terms

  • Burn Units
  • Burns / complications*
  • Burns / therapy
  • Compartment Syndromes / etiology*
  • Compartment Syndromes / therapy*
  • Decompression, Surgical
  • Humans
  • Intraocular Pressure*
  • Orbital Diseases / etiology*
  • Orbital Diseases / therapy*
  • Resuscitation