Lymphatic malformation in the orbital cavity and surrounding region often causes disfigurement and visual problems. To better clarify the evolution and treatment of this condition, the authors studied a retrospective cohort of 42 consecutive patients seen between 1971 and 2003 and analyzed anatomic features, complications, and management. The ratio of female to male patients was 1:1. Most periorbital lymphatic malformations were noted at birth (59 percent), presenting as either unilateral swelling (60 percent) or a periorbital mass (24 percent). Sixty-two percent of lesions were on the left side. The ipsilateral cheek, temple, and forehead also were involved in 57 percent of patients. Twenty-two percent of lesions were intraconal, 30 percent were extraconal, and 48 percent were in both spaces. Forty-five percent of children had an associated cerebral developmental venous anomaly. Periorbital lymphatic malformation caused major morbidity; 52 percent of patients had intralesional bleeding and 26 percent of patients had a history of infection. Other common complications included intermittent swelling (76 percent), blepharoptosis (52 percent), proptosis (45 percent), pain (21 percent), amblyopia (33 percent), chemosis (19 percent), astigmatism (17 percent), and strabismus (7 percent). Ultimately, 40 percent of children had diminished vision and 7 percent became blind in the affected eye. Management of periorbital lymphatic malformation involved an interdisciplinary team that included an interventional radiologist, a craniofacial surgeon, and an ophthalmologist. The two therapeutic strategies were sclerotherapy (40 percent) and resection (57 percent); most patients required several interventions. A coronal approach was used for subtotal excision of fronto-temporal-orbital lymphatic malformation in 13 patients, whereas a tarsal incision was used for lesions isolated to the eyelid (n = 14). Ocular proptosis was temporarily managed by tarsorrhaphy (n = 9), but expansion of the bony orbit was needed to correct persistent proptosis (n = 8). Orbital exenteration was necessary in two patients.
From the Vascular Anomalies Center, Division of Plastic Surgery, and the Departments of Radiology and Ophthalmology, Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School.
Received for publication October 24, 2003; revised January 5, 2004.
John B. Mulliken, M.D., Division of Plastic Surgery, Children’s Hospital, 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, Mass. 02115, email@example.com