Orbital exenteration: one size does not fit all.


To evaluate the clinical indications for orbital exenteration in a tertiary referral center and to compare clinicopathologic correlation and cosmetic outcome with previously reported data.


Retrospective, nonrandomized, consecutive case series.


Review of Electronic Medical Record system, Orbital Clinic, Jules Stein Eye Institute, between January 1999 and December 2003. main outcome measures: Surgery type, clear margins histologically, survival, and wearing an eye patch.


Thirty-four patients (mean age 67 years) underwent orbital exenteration; mean follow-up 1.2 +/- 1.5 years (6 months to 6 years). Diagnosis included orbital, ocular, and adnexal malignancies, with squamous and basal cell carcinoma being the most common. Twenty-one patients (62%) underwent total or extended orbital exenteration, and 13 patients (38%) underwent subtotal exenteration including tissue reconstruction. Clear surgical margins were obtained in 23 cases (68%), whereas positive margins were left in 11 cases (32%). Many of the patients preferred an eye patch to cover the surgical region regardless of surgical reconstruction. Only 4 patients (11.8%) who underwent subtotal exenteration with orbital prosthesis did not use a patch. During follow-up period 3 patients expired, only 1 of which was tumor-related.


Clinical indications for orbital exenteration remain similar over the last four decades with a higher prevalence of squamous cell carcinoma in our institute. Orbital exenteration is considered curative in cases of basal or squamous cell carcinoma but not in cases of malignant infiltrative processes such as adenoid cystic carcinoma of the lacrimal gland. Patients are likely to wear an eye patch regardless of any attempt at surgical reconstruction.

Comment in

The esthetics of orbital exenteration. [Am J Ophthalmol. 2005]