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An eye for trouble: orbital cellulitis
  1. P A R Armstrong,
  2. N M Nichol
  1. Emergency Department, Ninewells Hospital, Dundee, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 P Armstrong
 Emergency Department, Ninewells Hospital, Dundee DD1 9SY, UK; peter.armstrong{at}


Patients with orbital cellulitis present to emergency departments occasionally. Symptoms usually develop rapidly, with patients being distressed by painful ocular movements and systemic upset. The case of a 24-year-old man who had a 1-month gradual history of intermittent periorbital swelling after a flu-like illness, and subsequently developed a large intracranial extradural abscess eroding through the temporal bone, ultimately requiring neurosurgical intervention is presented.

Although orbital and periorbital swelling is common after acute sinusitis, cellulitis and intracranial abscess are rare but potentially life threatening and sight threatening. Accurate diagnosis is therefore of great importance.

In this case, the patient presented with few clinical signs but relevant pathology. The importance of assessing ocular movement, which is a major clinical abnormality indicating orbital disorder and thus an aid to accurate diagnosis, should be highlighted.

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  • Competing interests: None.