Five studies (134 participants, range 10 to 43) were included in the review: one prospective (37 patients) and four retrospective (97 patients) studies. Mean follow-up ranged from six months to more than 18 months.
Combined surgical and medical treatment had a cure rate of 95.3% to 100% and medical treatment alone was 26% to 93%. Medical treatment used alone when surgery was not indicated had a cure rate of 62% to 93%. The authors stated that it was not possible to directly compare surgical with medical treatment.
Patients who responded to medical treatment all had a medial abscess, many of which were associated with ethmoid sinusitis. These patients tended to be younger (<11 years) and display proptosis or ophthalmoplegia.
Most studies reported that patients with a non-medial abscess, decreased visual acuity, signs of systemic involvement at presentation and failure to respond to medical treatment were indications for surgery.