Pirates pitcher A.J. Burnett is slated to undergo surgery to repair a fractured right orbital, according to widespread media reports. He bunted a ball off his eye socket during practice earlier this week. Exactly how long Burnett will be sidelined is unclear. Plastic Surgery Practice spoke with two leading plastic surgeons about fractured orbital repair and its associated recovery time.
Sherrel Aston, MD, the chairman of plastic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital and Manhattan Ear Eye and Throat Hospital in New York City, says that recovery time varies depending on the extent of the oribital injury. “Fractures of the orbital floor, known as an orbital blowout fracture, occur when there is a sudden blow to the eye causing the pressure from the globe of the eye to break the small thin bone that is on the floor of the orbit, on which the eyeball sits,” he says. “Sometimes the bone can be repositioned adequately but, in some cases, a synthetic material may be required to give support to the floor If the bony orbital rim is fractured, it may be necessary to reposition the bones back to their normal position and stabilize them with a small metallic plate and screws.”
He says that Burnett may be able to resume normal athletic activities in one month.
According to Alan Matarraso, MD, a plastic surgeon at Lenox Hill Hospital and Manhattan Ear Eye and Throat Hospital, patients who sustain this type of injury should go to the emergency room ASAP. “Surgery may be performed immediately or within days once swelling has subsided,” he says. “Surgery involves repositioning the orbital structure with a synthetic material to address and repair the fracture.”
Symptoms include limited upward gaze, pushed back eyeball, numbness and double vision. The latter of which can be devastating to a professional athlete who relies on fine visual acuity. Neither of the two surgeons are currently treating Burnett.