Visual loss following head and neck surgery

Alan Crockett, A Trinidade, P Kothari, J Barnes

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    4 Citations (Scopus)


    Introduction: Non-arteritic ischaemic optic neuritis is a known post-operative complication of ophthalmological and maxillofacial surgery, but has not been widely described as a potential consequence of head and neck surgery. Aim: To highlight non-arteritic ischaemic optic neuritis as a potential risk in patients undergoing head and neck surgery. Subject and method: Case report of a 60-year-old man undergoing total laryngectomy and bilateral neck dissection for laryngeal squamous cell carcinoma. Result: On day 14 post-operatively, the patient suffered substantial oral bleeding secondary to an internal jugulo-neopharyngeal fistula. Following emergency haemostatic measures, the patient was immediately aware of visual disturbances. The ophthalmologists concluded that these were due to non-arteritic ischaemic optic neuritis, caused by acute hypoxaemia secondary to substantial blood loss. Conclusion: The prognosis of non-arteritic ischaemic optic neuritis is poor. Thus, it is crucial that otolaryngologists are aware of this complication of head and neck surgery, as immediate diagnosis and treatment can help prevent worsening visual loss.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)418-420
    Number of pages3
    JournalJournal of Laryngology and Otology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012


    • Blindness
    • Complications
    • Neck Dissection
    • Optic Neuritis


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