Abstract

Endoscopic orbital surgery has become a highly evolving multidisciplinary surgical field thanks to development in technical skills of ophthalmologists and otolaryngologists. These advances expanded the clinical application of orbital decompression, with a growing body of literature describing the multidisciplinary management of thyroid eye disease and compressive optic neuropathy, since 1990. Although techniques have improved considerably, only few Randomized Control Trials (RCT) provide evidence to support recommendations in clinical practice. This review provides an overview of the current knowledge of orbital decompression to clarify which is the most standardized therapeutic strategy. In the literature, we observed several approaches with contradicting results and the comparison of different surgical techniques was biased by inclusion of patients at different stage of disease (active or inactive), different surgical indications (dysthyroid neuropathy or disfiguring proptosis) and measures of outcomes (such as different system for ocular motility evaluation). The timing of surgical decompression is one of the debated issues. One RCT focusing on Graves’ orbitopathy showed how intravenous corticosteroids achieve better visual recovery than surgical orbital decompression; but in case of absent or poor response to medical therapy the patient should undergo surgery within two weeks. There is slight evidence that the removal of the medial and lateral wall (so-called balanced decompression) with or without fat removal could be the most effective surgical technique, with low complication rate, but an increasing number of authors are promoting, for selected cases, a pure endoscopic surgical approach (with removal of medial and infero-medial orbital wall), less invasive than the balanced one; the latter indicated to more severe proptosis or diplopia after endoscopic procedure. Three-wall decompression is chosen for high degrees of proptosis, but complications are more frequent. Timing of surgical orbital decompression, in particular when a concomitant optic neuropathy is present, is still to be determined. Additional ophthalmological procedures are needed to restore normal eye function and cosmesis. Strabismus surgery to address diplopia and lowering the position of the upper eyelid represent some of the additional steps for the final rehabilitation of Graves’ orbitopathy. The main clinical outcomes including visual acuity, proptosis, and new-onset diplopia are changing. Recent studies focused on the development of imaging measurements in order to objectively evaluate the surgical results and QOL questionnaires are gaining increasing importance.