• Vol. 35 No. 4, 260–265
  • 15 April 2006

Retrobulbar Alcohol Injection for Orbital Pain Relief Under Difficult Circumstances: A Case Report



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Introduction: A case is presented of a patient with severe and chronic pain in the orbital region, which was relieved by retrobulbar injection of absolute alcohol. The management of chronic pain in the orbital region has received little attention and the literature is reviewed.

Clinical Picture: A 52-year-old man with adenoid cystic carcinoma of the maxillary sinus was suffering from severe pain, especially in the left orbital region. There was also pain from ocular exposure and compression caused by the tumour. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) revealed spread of tumour to both orbits, particularly on the left. Multiple debulking surgery and various treatment modalities offered no relief from his pain.

Treatment: A single retrobulbar injection of 2 mL of absolute alcohol, was placed into the putative orbital apex.

Outcome: As a consequence of the injection, he had complete resolution of his pain in the 6 months prior to his death. Discussion: Retrobulbar injection of alcohol offers effective pain relief in certain specific conditions characterised by chronic orbital pain when other treatments do not help.

Conclusion: We have demonstrated that the retrobulbar technique still has a place in our armamentarium.

The management of pain in the orbital region, whether ocular or orbital in origin, is complex and lies at the margins of several subspecialty interests. Because of this, and because of its rarity, it has received little attention in the literature.

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