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Lateral canthotomy and cantholysis: emergency management of orbital compartment syndrome.

BACKGROUND: Orbital compartment syndrome is a sight-threatening emergency. Vision may be preserved when timely intervention is performed.

OBJECTIVE: To present a case of orbital compartment syndrome caused by traumatic retrobulbar hemorrhage and the procedure of lateral canthotomy and cantholysis, reviewed with photographic illustration.

DISCUSSION: Lateral canthotomy and cantholysis are readily performed at the bedside with simple instruments. The procedure may prevent irreversible blindness in cases of acute orbital compartment syndrome.

CONCLUSIONS: Emergency physicians should be familiar with lateral canthotomy and cantholysis in the management of orbital compartment syndrome to minimize the chance of irreversible visual loss.

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