Periocular inflammation after retrobulbar chlorpromazine (Thorazine) injection

Timothy J. McCulley, Robert C. Kersten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


PURPOSE: Retrobulbar chlorpromazine injection is a relatively recently described method of pain control in nonseeing eyes. This report illustrates severe sterile inflammation as a potential complication. METHODS: In this university-based, retrospective, small case series, we reviewed the records of 2 female patients and 1 male patient (ages, 13 to 89 years) who developed severe inflammation after retrobulbar chlorpromazine injection. RESULTS: Three patients had development of severe periocular edema after retrobulbar chlorpromazine injection. Two had development of chemosis, limited extraocular motility, proptosis, and incomplete eyelid closure, necessitating temporary tarsorrhaphy. The third patient had development of facial edema involving the ipsilateral eyelids, forehead, and cheek. Strikingly, it extended to the contralateral face. All 3 patients denied discomfort. In each case, swelling was first noted the day after injection and progressed for 1 week. All were treated with topical lubrication and two with temporary tarsorrhaphy. Resolution occurred within 3 weeks in each case. CONCLUSIONS: Severe periocular inflammation can result from retrobulbar chlorpromazine injection and may manifest as chemosis, proptosis, limited ocular motility, and facial swelling that may extend well beyond the eyelids. Awareness of this potential adverse reaction is important both for patient counseling before injection and subsequent treatment. Specifically, a sterile inflammatory response should be differentiated from infection to avoid inappropriate therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)283-285
Number of pages3
JournalOphthalmic plastic and reconstructive surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Ophthalmology


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