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  • Chris Thiagarajah MD

Orbital Tumor Removal in Denver


Removing an orbital tumor from the eye socket: A Denver eye socket surgeon shows how its done


One of the common things that is done in eye socket surgery is removal of tumors in the eye socket. Eye socket tumors are serious things. Some can be extensions from cancer in other parts of the body. Breast cancer, prostate cancer and lung cancer are among just a few cancers that can spread to the eye socket. Other cancers can be benign but can expand and grow and cause double vision and optic nerve and vision problems.

What are the steps of basic orbital tumor removal?

  1. Examine the patient

  2. Look at the imaging

  3. Have a great anesthesiologist

  4. Get to the tumor

  5. Remove tumor

It is good as a patient in Denver to learn the basic steps of eye socket surgery to know what to expect.

1. Examine the patient


The first step for any eye socket problem is proper examination of the patient. This involves a detailed discussion of the patient’s history and examination of the patient itself. The physical examination of the patient is critical to determine what side the tumor is on, which eye muscles are affected and which other parts of the facial nerves are affected. This is helpful to determine a plan to help the patient. Discussing with the patient the history is also critical to determine what the tumor may be.

2. The imaging


The cat scan or MRI has several major benefits. First, it shows the full extent of the growth of the cancer which can even help me determine what the type of cancer it was. Lymphoma or more serious cancers can look different than other cancers. Though it is not 100% we can get a general idea of the cancer and determine the best surgical approach.

3. Have a great anesthesiologist


Do not underestimate the value of having a great anesthesiologist. Sometimes I have patients who request “local” anesthesia or “general” anesthesia. The bottom line is that the anesthesiologist can determine best what type of anesthesia is needed for each specific procedure and for each specific patient. As you can imagine doing a “local” anesthesia with an orbital tumor may be ill-advised. I am operating in the small space of the eye socket. Any unnecessary movement by the patient (even small) can cause blindness. A great anesthesiologist will make sure the patient is comfortable, the patient is still and the anesthetic part goes safely.

4. Get to the tumor


Based on the location of the tumor, that will determine the approach I take to the tumor in the orbit. Sometimes an incision is made inside the eyelid. Other times it is in the eyelid crease. During the preop, I discuss with the patient what the approach and plan to get the tumor. Sometimes I need to take a piece of the tumor to determine what it is. Other times, I need to remove the whole tumor. That being said, in the surgery it is possible that things may change in the surgery itself where the plan needs to be changed.

5. Remove the tumor


In the final step, I remove the tumor from the eye socket. It is a careful approach involving moving the eye over away from the sharp instruments I am using. I check the pupil function after removing the tumor and send it to the pathologist to look at it under the microscope to determine what type of cancer it is.


These are the basic steps that are involved in orbital tumor removal. Every case is different and every patient is different. Orbital tumor removal is what an eye socket specialist does. If you or someone you know has an orbital tumor and needs the help of a specialist, call our office for a consultation. 303 468 8844.


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