What is ocular exenteration?
Ocular exenteration is a surgical operation in which we remove the contents of the eye socket. The procedure is similar to enucleation –which consists of the entire eyeball, but not the orbital mucus membrane or optic nerve– and to evisceration –an operation in which we only remove the intraocular contents, but not the sclera or the eye muscles.
However, exenteration requires removing the eyeball, the eye muscles, the optic nerve, adjacent tissue and, sometimes, even the eyelids and eyebrows. This means that reconstruction surgery is required after exenteration to improve the appearance of the face as much as possible.
A good prior diagnosis based on a full examination will enable us to plan the surgery in detail, learning in advance of the ocular structures that are affected and that can be preserved without jeopardising recovery.
Problems treated with ocular exenteratio
The most frequent tumour leading to this complex surgery is the squamous cell carcinoma, although there are other types of cancer such as basal cell or melanoma that can jeopardise the eye to the point of having to perform an exenteration.
Much less frequently, the operation is also recommended in the case of diseases involving uncontrollable pain, an irreversible loss of vision, eye and/or facial deformity caused, for example, by severe infection, extensive varicose veins or benign tumours that are at risk of becoming malignant or tending to spread to near tissue.