Epidemiology and Management of Orbital Cellulitis in Children

Brenda I. Anosike, Veena Ganapathy, Mari M. Nakamura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: The epidemiology of orbital cellulitis likely has evolved due to the emergence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and the adoption of pneumococcal conjugate vaccination. In the absence of published guidelines, management is highly variable. We characterized epidemiology and management over an 11-year period. Methods: A retrospective cohort study of children 0 to 21 years of age with orbital cellulitis subperiosteal orbital abscess hospitalized at a large quaternary children's hospital from January 2008 to June 2018. We reviewed charts for demographic characteristics, clinical features, management, and outcomes. Using multivariable logistic regression, we evaluated predictors of surgical intervention and assessed whether corticosteroid use or antibiotic duration was related to clinical outcomes. Results: Among 220 patients, methicillin-susceptible S. aureus was the most common organism (26.3%), with MRSA found in only 5.0%. Rates of vancomycin use fluctuated annually from 40.9% to 84.6%. Surgery was performed in 39.5% of the patients. Corticosteroids, used in 70 patients (32.1%), were unrelated to treatment failure (n = 9), defined as persistent signs and symptoms or initial clinical improvement followed by worsening (P =. 137). The median antibiotic duration was 17 days (interquartile range 14-26). After controlling for age, gender, proptosis, eye pain with movement, eyelid swelling, neutrophil count, and corticosteroid use, treatment failure was not significantly associated with receipt of ≥ 3 weeks of antibiotic therapy (8/84, 9.5%) compared with > 2 but < 3 weeks (0/51, 0.0%) or ≤ 2 weeks (1/85, 1.2%) (adjusted odds ratio = 5.83 for ≥ 3 vs ≤2 weeks; 95% confidence interval: 0.58, 59.0). Conclusions: Although MRSA was rare, empiric vancomycin use was high. Treatment failure was uncommon in patients who received ≤ 2 weeks of therapy, suggesting that shorter durations are adequate in some patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)214-220
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • disease management
  • duration of therapy
  • orbital cellulitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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