There is a mystical hole in the wall – of the orbit. An ancient myth among oculoplastic and maxillofacial surgeons alike-that once an Orbito- zygomatico-maxillary complex (OZM) fracture or commonly known as ZMC fracture is reduced, the orbital floor fracture automatically gets reduced and there is no need to repair the floor of the orbit. This was classic textbook teaching. However, this is true of only a small percentage of ZMC fractures.
Facial Trauma can be damaging with tissue loss. Despite accurate and meticulous reconstruction, the scarring can be severe in the face. Scar modulation is an essential part of post trauma care and I often advise patients as much when they come with traumatic injuries of the face.
Our team consisting of a Neuro-surgeon, Oculoplastic Surgeon (Me) and Maxillofacial Surgeon operated on him for nearly 10 hours to get this young man back to his pre-accident status. The Neurosurgeon fixed his CSF leak after taking a bi-coronal flap approach and we then painstakingly fixed his frontal bone fractures piece by piece using titanium plates and mesh as a framework. I then repaired both his orbits👀 with pre-fabricated combined medial and floor titanium implants using the trans-conjunctival approach to avoid any extra skin incisions. The left anterior nasal buttress had to be fixed with a titanium mini-plate from an oral incision. The flattened nose 👃still had to be fixed which was then suspended from the frontal bone titanium frame while using internal nasal splints and external POP splint to hold the nasal bones in the desired position. This was perfect team work which reflected in the excellent post-operative outcome.
While going home that evening, I reflected on how much technology had advanced that surgeons like me get to perform apparent everyday miracles like this while confidently knowing what it is that we are going after. Couldn’t help but remember Arthur C Clark’s third law:
“Any sufficiently advanced piece of technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
The COVID-19 lockdown was a period when we had stopped elective surgery and were prioritising semi-urgent surgeries and emergencies. But some surgeries can’t wait even if not life threatening. Like this girl who fell down the stairs to have an orbital (eye socket) fracture. The walls of the bony socket holding the eye were broken entrapping the eye muscles- which causes double vision and also making the eye sunken (enophthalmos). This needed early intervention- hence a semi-urgent surgery.