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Incidence and outcomes of retrobulbar hematoma diagnosed by computed tomography in cases of orbital fracture.

OBJECTIVE: Retrobulbar hemorrhage (RBH) is a potentially sight-threatening complication of orbital fractures causing an orbital compartment syndrome (OCS). RBH causing OCS is regarded as a clinical diagnosis when evidence of optic nerve compression is found. Nonetheless, many patients with facial trauma will have received imaging by computed tomography (CT) on which there is documented RBH, with or without signs of OCS. The aim of this study was to identify the incidence and describe the outcomes of these CT-diagnosed RBH.

METHODS: This is a retrospective chart review of patients with orbital fractures for which ophthalmology was consulted. Confirmation of orbital fracture and presence of an RBH on facial-bones CT was recorded. Patient demographics, proptosis, visual acuity, intraocular pressure and interventions received at initial visit and follow-up were recorded.

RESULTS: 292 orbits with wall fractures were identified. 94 (32.2%) were documented by CT to have RBH. Of these orbits, only one (1.1%) was diagnosed with OCS receiving canthotomy and cantholysis. 53 orbits with initial CT-diagnosed retrobulbar hematoma were seen in follow-up a week or more later, none of which had developed signs of OCS or needed medical or surgical intervention for OCS.

CONCLUSIONS: RBH is a frequently reported finding on CT in cases of orbital fractures. In this study, almost all of these CT-diagnosed RBH did not develop OCS initially or by the time of follow-up. CT presence of RBH is not an accurate predictor for OCS, and the diagnosis and treatment of OCS should be directed clinically.

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