Orbital Complications of Rhinosinusitis in the Adult Population: Analysis of Cases Presenting to a Tertiary Medical Center Over a 13-Year Period

Aiman El Mograbi, Amit Ritter, Esmat Najjar, Ethan Soudry*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Orbital complications of rhinosinusitis in adults are scarcely discussed in the literature. Objective: To review our experience with the management of orbital complications of rhinosinusitis in the adult patient population and identify key factors in the characteristics and management of these patients. Design: Retrospective case series during the years 2004 to 2016 in a tertiary referral center including all patients with rhinosinusitis and orbital complications. Main Outcomes and Measures: Severity of complications, risk factors, clinical, imaging and microbiological data, treatment outcomes. Results: Seventy patients were identified. Median age at diagnosis was 38 years. In 57%, complications were associated with acute rhinosinusitis and in 43% with chronic rhinosinusitis, most of whom had a history of previous sinus surgery. Thirty-five percent of patients received antibiotics prior to admission. The majority of the previously operated patients (61%) had some form of orbital wall dehiscence noted on imaging. Preseptal cellulitis was the most common complication (61.5%) encountered, followed by orbital cellulitis (23%), sub-periosteal abscess (11.5%), orbital abscess (3%), and cavernous sinus thrombosis (1.5%). Gram-positive bacteria were more commonly isolated from acute rhinosinusitis patients and gram-negative bacteria from chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) patients. Complete recovery was noted in all patients, of whom 85% were managed conservatively. All, but 1 patient, with an abscess or cavernous sinus thrombosis required surgical drainage. Older age was the only risk factor identified for severe complications. Conclusions: In contrast to the pediatric population, CRS is very common in adults with orbital complications of rhinosinusitis, with previous sinus surgery and orbital wall dehiscence being noticeably common. Older patients are at risk for more severe complications. Conservative treatment suffices in patients with preseptal and orbital cellulitis. In more advanced stages, surgical drainage is advocated with excellent results. Larger cohort studies are needed to further investigate this patient group.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)563-568
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2019


  • adult patient
  • chronic rhinosinusitis
  • miscellaneous
  • orbital complications
  • otolaryngology
  • rhinology
  • rhinosinusitis
  • sinus surgery


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