Recurrent contracted sockets treated with personalized, three-dimensionally printed conformers and buccal grafts

Eur J Ophthalmol. 2022 Jan;32(1):717-724. doi: 10.1177/11206721211000013. Epub 2021 Mar 11.


Purpose: Recurrent contracted sockets are complex situations where previous surgeries have failed, disabling the wear of an ocular prosthesis. A combined method of surgery and long-term fixation using custom-made, three-dimensional (3D) printed conformers is evaluated.

Methods: Retrospective case series of nine patients with recurrent excessive socket contraction and inability to wear a prosthesis, caused by chemical burns (n = 3), fireworks (n = 3), trauma (n = 2) and enucleation and radiotherapy at childhood due to optic nerve glioma (n = 1) with three average previous socket surgeries (range 2-6). Treatment consisted of a buccal mucosal graft and personalized 3D-printed conformer designed to be fixated to the periosteum and tarsal plates for minimal 2 months. Primary outcome was the retention of an ocular prosthesis. Secondary outcome was the need for additional surgeries.

Results: Outcomes were measured at final follow-up between 7 and 36 months postoperatively (mean 20 months). Eight cases were able to wear an ocular prosthesis after 2 months. Three cases initially treated for only the upper or only the lower fornix needed subsequent surgery for the opposite fornix for functional reasons. Two cases had later surgery for cosmetic improvement of upper eyelid position. Despite pre-existing lid abnormalities (scar, entropion, lash deficiency), cosmetic outcome was judged highly acceptable in six cases because of symmetric contour and volume, and reasonably acceptable in the remaining two.

Conclusions: Buccal mucosal transplant fixated with a personalized 3D-designed conformer enables retention of a well-fitted ocular prosthesis in previously failed socket surgeries. Initial treatment of both upper and lower fornices is recommended to avoid subsequent surgeries for functional reasons.

Keywords: Anophthalmic socket; cornea/external disease; eyelid disease: eyelid reconstruction; immune disease of conjunctiva; oculoplastic eyelid/lacrimal disease; orbital disease; orbital surgery; orbital trauma.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Eye, Artificial*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Orbit
  • Orbital Implants*
  • Printing, Three-Dimensional
  • Retrospective Studies