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Prehospital canthotomy: A sight-saving procedure in case series.

OBJECTIVE: Orbital compartment syndrome (OCS) is a time critical condition, with ischaemic complications occurring after 90-120 min. In the prehospital setting, the diagnosis and management of OCS is challenging due to complex environmental considerations, competing clinical priorities, and limited equipment. This study aims to provide learning points on performing lateral canthotomy and cantholysis (LCC) in the prehospital setting.

METHODS: We performed a retrospective audit of LCC in our service from January 2016 to December 2020 by retrieving demographic and clinical details from LifeFlight Retrieval Medicine electronic database using 'OCS' and 'LCC' as keywords.

RESULTS: Three cases out of 7413 trauma missions were identified over the 5-year period. LCC was performed at the primary scene in two cases, while one patient underwent LCC at a rural hospital near the scene of injury. Clinical findings, aeromedical considerations, and radiological findings at the receiving facility, along with visual outcomes at time of discharge are discussed.

CONCLUSION: Prehospital LCC is rare. The Australian aeromedical context often involves lengthy transfers of trauma patients. Clinical diagnosis and management of OCS are highly challenging in the prehospital setting. It is important that prehospital physicians have access to appropriate equipment to perform LCC. They should be provided with suitable training and supported by a standard operating procedure.

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