The Lateral Orbitotomy Approach for Intraorbital Lesions

Ryan P. Lee, Adham M. Khalafallah, Abhishek Gami, Debraj Mukherjee

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The lateral orbitotomy approach (LOA) was first described by Kronlein in 1888 and has since been subject to many modifications and variations. When considering orbital approaches, the location of the pathology is often more important in decision making than the type of pathology. The LOA is best suited for access to intraconal and extraconal lesions lateral to the optic nerve. Pathologies treated via the LOA include primary orbital tumors, extraorbital tumors with local extension into the orbit, and distantly metastatic lesions to the orbit. These all often initially manifest with vision loss, oculomotor deficits, or proptosis. The expertise of a multidisciplinary team is needed to execute safe and effective treatment. Collaboration between many specialties may be required, including ophthalmology, neurosurgery, otolaryngology, plastic surgery, oncology, and anesthesiology. The modern technique involves either a lateral canthotomy or eyelid crease incision with removal of the lateral orbital wall. It affords many advantages over a pterional craniotomy, primarily a lower approach morbidity and superior cosmetic outcomes. Reconstruction is fairly simple and the rate of complications-vision loss and extraocular muscle palsy-are low and infrequently permanent. Deep orbital apex location and intracranial extension have traditionally been considered limitations of this approach. However, with increased surgeon comfort, modern technique, and the adoption of endoscopy, these limits have expanded to even include primarily intracranial pathologies. This review details the LOA, including the general technique, its indications and limitations, reconstruction considerations, complications, and recent data from case series. The focus is on microscopic access to intraorbital lesions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)435-441
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neurological Surgery, Part B: Skull Base
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020


  • Endoscopic lateral orbitotomy
  • Lateral orbital approach
  • Lateral orbitotomy
  • Orbital surgery
  • Orbital tumor
  • Sphenoorbital meningioma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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