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Br J Radiol. 1997 Jan;70:29-33.

The role of plain radiography in the management of suspected orbital blow-out fractures.

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Department of Radiology, Moorfields Eye Hospital, London UK.


We reviewed the indications for radiography and its impact on management in 100 consecutive patients referred to the Radiology Department from the Accident and Emergency Department of a large eye hospital in order to assess the utility of orbital plain radiographs in patients suspected of having blow-out fractures. We assessed whether administration of antibiotics or referral for surgical or orthoptic treatment was influenced by clinical features, radiographic findings or both. Ophthalmologists interpreting the radiographs appeared to be guided by the presence or absence of physical signs. No patient in whom they overlooked a fracture which was not evident clinically was subsequently referred for surgery. All patients who did have surgery for complications of a blow-out fracture underwent pre-operative computed tomography. Neither referral for orthoptic treatment nor administration of systemic antibiotics was consistently influenced by the presence or absence of a fracture. Given these findings, and the observation that the decision to operate was guided exclusively by clinical rather than radiological criteria, we recommend that only patients with well-defined indications for surgery (enophthalmos of more than 2 mm at any time within the first 6 weeks following the injury, and/or diplopia in the primary and/or downgaze reading positions not showing evidence of resolving within 2 weeks of the injury) should undergo radiography.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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