Volkmann’s contracture of the extraocular muscles following blowout fracture

Byron Smith, Richard D. Lisman, John Simonton, Robert Delia Rocca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


In the past decade there has been considerable controversy over the surgical indications for treatment of blowout fractures of the orbit. It has been well recognized that some fracture patients develop an ischemic contracture of the inferior rectus muscle. We have found that a Volkmann’s type of contracture of the inferior rectus muscle does exist and is similar to that found in the distal extremities. A specific group of fracture patients is at greater risk for development of a contracture. Elderly patients, hypotensive patients, patients with small fractures, and those with high inferior rectus compartment pressures are more prone to developing a contracted extraocular muscle. We have measured compartment pressures in 18 patients who were surgical candidates following orbital fracture. Our conclusions indicate that surgical intervention following blowout fractures in these highrisk patients may be more prudent than medical management. Patients with persistent diplopia due to a contracted inferior rectus are extremely difficult to treat many months after fracture. We still believe it prudent to surgically repair orbital fractures in patients with diplopia, enophthalmos, and a risk for muscle contracture. The documentation of this additional sequela of unrepaired fractures lends more strength to this belief. There is no evidence to indicate that a Volkmann’s contracture would be possible after early repair of a blowout fracture.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)200-209
Number of pages10
JournalPlastic and Reconstructive Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1984
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Volkmann’s contracture of the extraocular muscles following blowout fracture'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this