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Open Access Case report

Worsening angle closure glaucoma and choroidal detachments subsequent to closure of a carotid cavernous fistula

Sumeer Thinda, Mark R Melson and Rachel W Kuchtey*

Author Affiliations

Vanderbilt Eye Institute, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN, 37232, USA

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BMC Ophthalmology 2012, 12:28  doi:10.1186/1471-2415-12-28

Published: 28 July 2012

Abstract

Background

Carotid cavernous fistulas are abnormal communications between the cavernous sinus and the external or internal carotid arteries. Although rare, closure of carotid cavernous fistulas can lead to immediate ocular complications. To our knowledge, our case represents the first report of worsening angle closure glaucoma and choroidal detachments over an extended period of two months subsequent to closure of a carotid cavernous fistula.

Case presentation

A 70-year-old female with a history of primary angle closure glaucoma presented with 4 mm of proptosis, resistance to retropulsion, tortuous corkscrew blood vessels and an orbital bruit of the right eye. Diagnostic cerebral angiogram showed a small indirect Barrow type D right carotid cavernous fistula. Transarterial embolization was planned but repeat cerebral angiography prior to the procedure demonstrated spontaneous partial closure of the carotid cavernous fistula and the procedure was aborted. One month later, our patient was noted to have worsening vision and choroidal detachments of the right eye. She declined further testing and was thus started on self-administered manual carotid jugular compressions. One month later, she developed progressive worsening of her choroidal detachments and angle closure. She eventually opted for surgical intervention but repeat cerebral angiography showed significant thrombosis of the carotid cavernous fistula and no intervention was warranted. Examination two months later showed complete resolution of the choroidal detachments and open angles of both eyes.

Conclusions

Our patient demonstrated worsening angle closure glaucoma and choroidal detachments after spontaneous closure of her carotid cavernous fistula had been noted. Ocular complications, including acute angle closure, have been reported to occur immediately after closure of carotid cavernous fistulas, but not over months as in our patient. It is imperative that individuals who have undergone apparent closure of a carotid cavernous fistula be carefully monitored for worsening ocular complications.