Purpose: To compare anesthesia methods with resultant strabismus patterns in patients with vertical diplopia after cataract surgery. Methods: The authors analyzed 28 consecutive patients with acquired vertical diplopia after cataract surgery to identify the strabismus pattern. The method of anesthesia administration was available in 21 patients. Three orbital dissections with simulated retrobulbar blocks were performed on cadavers to ascertain the possibility of injuring the vertical rectus muscles at the time of injection. Results: Fifty percent of the involved muscles were overactive, 39% were restricted, and 11% were paretic. Eleven patients received retrobulbar, and ten received peribulbar anesthesia. The inferior rectus in 17 patients and the superior rectus muscle in 11 were involved. The odds of damaging the inferior rectus, as opposed to the superior rectus muscle, with peribulbar anesthesia was 4.8 times higher than with retrobulbar blocks. Cadaveric dissections showed the likelihood of direct needle injury to either vertical recti with retrobulbar blocks. Conclusions: In this patient population, permanent vertical strabismus after cataract surgery results more often from overacting or restricted muscles than from primary muscle paresis. Both the superior and inferior recti can be injured with retrobulbar anesthesia, but peribulbar injections affect the inferior rectus muscle more frequently.
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