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Paediatric orbital trapdoor fracture misdiagnosed as a head injury: a cautionary tale!
  1. Louise Dunphy1 and
  2. Pradeep Anand2
  1. 1 Department of Surgery, Milton Keynes University Hospital, Milton Keynes, UK
  2. 2 Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Louise Dunphy, Louise.Dunphy{at}


Trapdoor fractures, otherwise known as ‘white-eyed blowout’ fractures, occur predominantly in the paediatric cohort and have a male predilection. Patients commonly present with acute fractures to the emergency department, and delayed diagnosis can result in significant morbidity. A lack of external signs, such as oedema or ecchymosis, often misleads physicians into underestimating the seriousness of the injury. It can be initially misdiagnosed as a head injury due to the oculocardiac reflex, nausea, vomiting, poor patient compliance and a failure to examine the eye appropriately. The incarcerated muscles may become necrotic because of ischaemia, resulting in ocular motility problems. Immediate surgery is recommended for symptomatic persistent diplopia or clinical evidence of muscle entrapment. The authors present the case of a 16-year-old male adolescent initially diagnosed with a head injury due to his nausea and vomiting following trauma to his orbit. This resulted in a delay to surgery. This article highlights the importance of performing an ophthalmic assessment to detect other features of a trapdoor fracture in children presenting with orbital trauma. It also reinforces the importance of knowledge of the oculocardiac reflex as its association with orbital injuries is well documented.

  • emergency medicine
  • trauma
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  • Contributors LD wrote the case report and PA edited the paper.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Patient consent for publication Obtained.

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