Tests & Procedures Index



Fractures of the Orbit

What are fractures of the orbit?

When one or more bones surrounding the eye are broken, the condition is called orbital fracture. The orbit is the bony structure around the eye. An orbital fracture usually occurs after some type of injury or a strike to the face. Depending on where the fracture is located, it can be associated with severe eye injury and damage.

What are the symptoms of an orbital fracture?

The following are the most common symptoms of an orbital fracture. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Swelling of the eyelid
  • Bruising around the eye
  • Pain in the eye
  • Double vision
  • Decreased movement of the affected eye

The symptoms of an orbital fracture may resemble other eye conditions or medical problems. Always consult your child's doctor for a diagnosis.

How is an orbital fracture diagnosed?

Diagnosis is usually made after a complete medical history and physical examination of your child. In addition, your child's doctor may also order the following tests to help confirm the diagnosis:

  • X-ray. A diagnostic test that uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.
  • Computed tomography scan (also called a CT or CAT scan). A diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of X-rays and computer technology to produce horizontal, or axial, images (often called slices) of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, and organs. CT scans are more detailed than general X-rays.

Treatment for an orbital fracture

Specific treatment for an orbital fracture will be determined by your child's doctor based on:

  • Your child's age, overall health, and medical history
  • Extent of the injury
  • The location of the fracture
  • Associated double vision that persists or association with eye muscle entrapment
  • Cosmetic concerns
  • Your child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • Your opinion or preference

Treatment may include:

  • A consultation with an ophthalmologist (doctor who specializes in comprehensive eye care) may be necessary for a complete evaluation of the eye.
  • Some fractures do not have to be treated immediately. Depending on the injury, time may be allowed for the swelling and bruising to go away before the fracture is treated.
  • Usually, the double vision will resolve without treatment in three to four days.
  • Surgery may be indicated for severe fractures, or if there is involvement of the eye. Surgery may be performed immediately, or up to several days after the trauma.

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Last reviewed: 3/27/2013