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Periorbital and orbital cellulitis in children: a survey of emergency physicians and analysis of clinical practice guidelines across the PERUKI network


Background Due to limited evidence to guide management of periorbital cellulitis (POC), we surveyed current practice and assessed quality and consistency of local clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) to highlight future research priorities.

Methods A web-based survey was sent to a designated emergency physician (who clinically assesses children) at Paediatric Emergency Research United Kingdom and Ireland (PERUKI) sites between 23 November 2018 to 22 January 2019. A nominated site lead offered one response as a department-wide perspective on admission, severity assessment, treatment, disposition and specialty consultation request. Sites shared their CPG. These were compared using a standardised data collection tool, and quality assessed using Standardised Reporting Practice Guidelines in Healthcare (RIGHT) criteria. Survey responses were also compared against CPG recommendations.

Results 83% (49/59) institutions invited submitted an individual survey response. 67% of responding sites had a CPG and 63% (31/49) submitted these. CPG quality was poor (mean 6.7/35 RIGHT criteria). 21 different severity markers were identified across CPGs. Most CPGS recommend investigations for severe disease, yet 23% (7/31) advise blood culture universally. 90% of CPGs advise discharge with oral antibiotics for milder cases, yet 86% of respondents reported departmental admission of all patients with POC. Nearly all respondents included proptosis, systemically unwell and visual disturbance as indications for admission but differed regarding importance of other signs.

Conclusions We demonstrated variation in practice across the PERUKI network in assessment of severity and management of POC. CPGs vary in recommendations, and clinical practice appears to differ from CPGs. Guidelines were generally of poor quality when compared against RIGHT standards.

  • ophthalmology
  • pediatric emergency medicine
  • guideline

Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request. Any further data required may be made available via request to the corresponding author.

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