Clinical Communications: Adult| Volume 63, ISSUE 1, e22-e27, July 2022

Misdiagnosis of Orbital Foreign Body as Glaucoma Drainage Device



      Sight-threatening complications from retained orbital and intraocular foreign bodies are frequently reported in literature. Delays in diagnosis can result in severe complications, including choroidal neovascularization, infection, and irreversible vision loss. Therefore, it is imperative that emergency physicians consider the possibility of orbital and intraocular foreign bodies when evaluating patients with acute facial trauma.

      Case Report

      A 91-year-old woman with a history of laser-treated glaucoma and cataracts presented to an outside emergency department after a ground-level fall. A maxillofacial noncontrast computed tomography scan showed no facial fractures or hemorrhage, but a 41 mm × 4 mm foreign body within the intraconal compartment of the right orbit was identified. The object was presumed to be an implanted glaucoma drainage device, and the patient was discharged without antibiotics. One day after discharge, the patient developed right periorbital swelling and erythema with increasing purulent discharge and skin thickening, ultimately requiring transfer to our facility for management of complex right orbital cellulitis, orbital compartment syndrome, and surgical foreign body removal. Despite globe exploration and surgical intervention, the patient developed a frozen globe with no light perception in the right eye.
      Why Should an Emergency Physician Be Aware of This? Subtle ophthalmologic emergencies such as sight-threatening foreign bodies can be challenging to diagnose on imaging, particularly with the advent of implantable ocular technology. When an orbital foreign body is discovered in the context of facial trauma, early ophthalmology consultation should be considered.


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