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Year : 2008  |  Volume : 15  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 251-254

Mechanisms of orbital blowout fracture: a critical review of the literature

Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
W L Adeyemo
Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, College of Medicine, University of Lagos
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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OBJECTIVE: The aim of the present study is to critically review relevant literature regarding the mechanism of blowout fractures of the orbit and provide an answer to the question: Can one theory adequately explain the mechanism of orbital blowout fractures in the light of present day knowledge? MATERIALS AND METHODS: A computerised literature search using MEDLINE was conducted for published articles on orbital blowout fractures. Mesh phrases used in the search were: orbital blowout fractures AND mechanisms; orbital blowout fractures AND theory; orbital wall injury AND mechanisms. Only relevant articles were selected for the review. RESULTS: The physical mechanism of orbital blowout fracture has been a subject of debate for years by maxillofacial surgeons, ophthalmologists, plastic surgeons, otolaryngologists and orbitologists. However, only 3 mechanisms of injury have been proposed namely: "hydraulic" theory, "globe-to-wall" theory and "bone conduction" theory. Most of the theories of orbital blowout fractures have been confirmed through brilliant experiments and hypothetical explanation/analysis of clinical and radiologic findings, and each one appears to fit according to the different type of trauma received. CONCLUSIONS: Based on contemporary evidence, one theory may not adequately explain all types of fractures completely or be responsible exclusively in a given case for the pattern of fracture observed. Blowout fractures of the orbit could therefore be due to a combination of 2 or more mechanisms.

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