Orbital Compartment Syndrome: The Ophthalmic Surgical Emergency

Vanessa Lima, Benjamin Burt, Igal Leibovitch, Venkatesh Prabhakaran, Robert A. Goldberg, Dinesh Selva

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

113 Scopus citations


Orbital compartment syndrome is an uncommon, ophthalmic surgical emergency characterized by an acute rise in orbital pressure. When intraorbital tension rises, damage to ocular and other intraorbital structures, including irreversible blindness, may occur if not promptly treated. The diagnosis of orbital compartment syndrome is completely clinical and early recognition and emergent orbital decompression (even prior to imaging) is essential in preventing permanent vision loss. Lateral canthotomy and inferior cantholysis remain the mainstays of management. More extensive incision of the orbital septum and orbital bony decompression may be necessary in unresponsive cases. This review discusses the various etiologies and mechanisms resulting in orbital compartment syndrome, clinical features, imaging findings, treatment, and prognosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)441-449
Number of pages9
JournalSurvey of ophthalmology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2009


  • cantholysis
  • canthotomy
  • globe tenting
  • orbital compartment syndrome
  • orbital compression syndrome
  • orbital decompression
  • orbital emergency
  • orbital tension

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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