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Head Neck Surg. 1987 Mar-Apr;9(4):227-34.

Periorbital cellulitis.

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Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, University of Michigan Hospitals, Ann Arbor 48109.


Periorbital cellulitis is a commonly occurring infectious process limited to the eyelids in the preseptal region. It occurs with greater frequency in the pediatric age group. It is important to distinguish this disease from orbital cellulitis, a potentially lethal infectious process involving the contents of the orbit. A retrospective study of clinical and laboratory data from 137 cases with orbital and periorbital cellulitis was performed. Periorbital cellulitis was documented in 98 cases (71%) in contrast to orbital cellulitis, which was noted in 39 (28%) patients. Sinusitis was the most frequently encountered predisposing factor for the development of periorbital cellulitis occurring in 29 patients. All patients with a diagnosis of periorbital cellulitis were hospitalized and received antibiotics, the majority (95%) receiving intravenous therapy. Hemophilus influenzae was the most frequently isolated pathogenic organism. It was necessary to operate on eight patients. Six patients underwent incision and drainage of an eyelid or periorbital abscess. A distinction between periorbital and orbital cellulitis is clarified. The separation of these entities on the basis of physical examination and radiographic studies is stressed.

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