What is Orbital Fracture Repair?

The eye sits in a cone of bone, in a cushion of fat. Several of the bones which surround the eye are very thin and “designed” to crack if the eye is struck. The “blowing out” of these bones effectively protects the eye in many cases from rupture. The thin bones around the eye crack into the adjacent sinuses. When this occurs the volume of the orbit enlarges. In essence, the “sugar cone” size of the orbit becomes a “waffle cone”. The eye may then be set back into the orbit and appear sunken.

On occasion, the fat and even one or two muscles which surround the eye may herniate into the adjacent sinus and become trapped. This leads to a restriction of eye movement and double vision.

Orbital fracture repair is designed to replace the fat and muscles which have been pushed into the adjacent sinus back into their normal position. The eye is gently elevated and a small disc of material placed over the fracture to prevent the tissue from slipping back into the fracture site. The eye is placed into its normal or near normal anatomic position.

Computed tomography (CT scan) or Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be recommended to aid in the diagnosis of a fracture.

Surgical repair is generally performed as an outpatient under a general anesthetic. It is common for there to be bruising and some swelling for a week or two after surgery. There may even be numbness in the area of the cheek and upper teeth, from the injury or the surgery, as the nerves to these areas are located in the area of the fracture. This numbness generally improves with time.