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Reversal of dysthyroid optic neuropathy following orbital fat decompression
  1. Michael Kazima,b,
  2. Stephen L Trokela,
  3. Golge Acaroglua,
  4. Alexandra Elliotta
  1. aDepartment of Ophthalmology, Edward S Harkness Eye Institute, Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, New York, USA, bDepartment of Surgery, Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, New York, USA
  1. Michael Kazim, MD, Edward S Harkness Eye Institute, 635 West 165th Street, New York, NY 10032, USA mk48{at}


AIMS To document the successful treatment of five patients with dysthyroid optic neuropathy by orbital fat decompression instead of orbital bone decompression after failed medical therapy.

METHODS Eight orbits of five patients with dysthyroid optic neuropathy were selected for orbital fat decompression as an alternative to bone removal decompression. Treatment with systemic corticosteroids and/or orbital radiotherapy was either unsuccessful or contraindicated in each case. All patients satisfied clinical indications for orbital bone decompression to reverse the optic neuropathy. High resolution computerised tomographic (CT) scans were performed in all cases and in each case showed signs of enlargement of the orbital fat compartment. As an alternative to bone decompression, orbital fat decompression was performed on all eight orbits.

RESULTS Orbital fat decompression was performed on five patients (eight orbits) with optic neuropathy. Optic neuropathy was reversed in all cases. There were no cases of postoperative diplopia, enophthalmos, globe ptosis, or anaesthesia. All patients were followed for a minimum of 1 year.

CONCLUSIONS In a subset of patients with an enlarged orbital fat compartment and in whom extraocular muscle enlargement is not the solitary cause of optic neuropathy, fat decompression is a surgical alternative to bony decompression.

  • Graves' disease
  • Graves' orbitopathy
  • dysthyroid optic neuropathy
  • compressive optic neuropathy
  • bone decompression
  • orbital fat decompression

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