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November 1991

Anterior Ischemic Optic Neuropathy Causing Blindness in the Head and Neck Surgery Patient

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery (Drs Wilson and Freeman) and Ophthalmology (Dr Breene), Naval Hospital, Portsmouth, Va, and the Department of Surgery, F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Md (Drs Wilson and Freeman). Drs Wilson, Freeman, and Breene are now in private practice, Newport News, Va, Indianapolis, Ind, and Arlington, Wash, respectively.

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1991;117(11):1304-1306. doi:10.1001/archotol.1991.01870230120021

• Anterior ischemic optic neuropathy is an uncommon and devastating event that can result in unilateral or bilateral blindness. It has been reported as a complication of ophthalmologic or general surgical and cardiothoracic procedures as well as a spontaneous event in severe systemic disease. Aggravating intraoperative factors include anemia, hemorrhage, hypotension, preexisting small-vessel disease, and increased intraocular pressure. We present a case of anterior ischemic optic neuropathy as a complication in a 48-year-old man undergoing extensive resection of recurrent carcinoma of the head and neck. Possible contributing risk factors in our patient include preexisting hypertension, intraoperative blood loss, previous radical neck dissection with venous compromise, intraoperative head and neck edema, and the use of tightly adherent plastic bubble-type intraoperative eye protection. The possible pathogenesis of this devastating complication and recommendations for prevention and management of anterior ischemic optic neuropathy are described.

(Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1991;117:1304-1306)

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