To examine the features and clinical management of patients who underwent skin-muscle sparing orbital exenteration in a tertiary referral center.
Patients and Method:
Retrospective case-note review for patients undergoing skin-muscle sparing orbital exenteration at Moorfields Eye Hospital between 1997 and 2012. Patient demographics, clinical features, histopathology, clearance, surgery, adjuvant therapy, and outcomes were analyzed.
Seventy-four patients (33 male; 45%) had skin-muscle sparing orbital exenteration at a median age of 63.8 years (median 65.5, range 13–96 years) for malignancies primarily arising in the eyelids (34 cases; 46%), orbit (25 cases; 34%) or conjunctiva (15 cases; 20%). The commonest pathologies were sebaceous carcinoma (20 cases; 27%), melanoma (19 cases; 26%), squamous cell carcinoma (12 cases; 16%), and basal cell carcinoma (9 cases; 12%). The patients had very rapid rehabilitation with primary closure of skin-muscle flaps over the cavity, either directly (63/74 patients; 85%), or with addition of local flaps. Local radiotherapy had been given before exenteration to 18 (24%) patients, was administered after exenteration in 19 (26%) patients, and both before and after surgery in 5 (7%); those having postoperative radiotherapy were referred at 2–3 weeks after exenteration, and the initial prosthetics fitting was started at 3–6 weeks after surgery. Thirty-eight (51%) patients died during a follow-up of 1–164 months (mean 55, median 47 months); 20/38 (53%) died from metastases—although 9/20 had known metastatic disease prior to palliative exenteration. Three patients were alive with apparently inactive metastases at 30, 39, and 140 months after surgery.
Direct closure of skin-and-muscle flaps is achievable in almost all undergoing orbital exenteration. In contrast to skin-grafting, free myocutaneous flaps or secondary intention healing, this allows early referral if adjunctive orbital radiotherapy is needed, and the initial fitting of prosthetics can be within weeks of surgery. The technique also avoids the much greater donor-site morbidity of other reconstructive techniques, such as local or free myocutaneous flaps.