Orbital expansion for congenital anophthalmia may be achievable in infancy but not in childhood

Brad T. Morrow, William B. Albright, Rogerio I. Neves, Michael J. Wilkinson, Thomas D. Samson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Congenital anophthalmia is a rare anomaly that results in micro-orbitism and craniofacial microsomia. Treatment with static conformers is labor-intensive and provides minimal stimulation for orbital growth that requires eventual reconstruction with orbital osteotomies after skeletal maturity. Methods: A protocol for the treatment of congenital anophthalmia is presented. Patients underwent a preoperative low-dose radiation computed tomography (CT) scan of the facial bones to assess orbital volume. An intraorbital expander was placed and was filled on a monthly basis. Quantitative changes in the affected and unaffected orbits were assessed by a repeat CT scan obtained 1 year postoperatively. Results: Two patients with left unilateral congenital anophthalmia were prospectively followed. In a 4-month-old, the affected orbital width and height increased by 171.6% and 116.7% respectively compared with the unaffected orbit. In a 4-year-old, the affected orbital width increased by 36.1% but the height decreased by 35.3% compared with the unaffected orbit. At 18 months follow-up, no complications, ruptures, infections, or extrusions have been observed. Conclusions: Our results support that accelerated expansion can be achieved in a 4-month-old orbit reversing the effects of anophthalmia. However, in a 4-year-old, minimal growth was observed. The lack of accelerated growth in this study may be explained by synostosis of the orbital sutures. As such, expansion should be initiated at the earliest age possible. Further longitudinal study is ongoing to determine if sustained catch-up growth will obviate or reduce the complexity of a secondary correction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1642-1646
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Craniofacial Surgery
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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