Superior oblique palsy is a common cause of vertical strabismus in adults and children. Patients may be symptomatic from binocular vertical diplopia or compensatory head tilt required to maintain single vision. Most patients who are symptomatic elect to undergo strabismus surgery, but the optimal surgical treatment for vertical strabismus in people with superior oblique palsy is unknown.
To assess the relative effects of surgical treatments compared with another surgical intervention, non-surgical intervention, or observation for vertical strabismus in people with superior oblique palsy.
We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) (which contains the Cochrane Eyes and Vision Trials Register) (2016, Issue 12), MEDLINE Ovid (1946 to 13 December 2016), Embase Ovid (1947 to 13 December 2016), Latin American and Caribbean Health Sciences Literature Database (LILACS) (1982 to 13 December 2016), the ISRCTN registry (www.isrctn.com/editAdvancedSearch); searched 13 December 2016, ClinicalTrials.gov (www.clinicaltrials.gov); searched 13 December 2016, and the World Health Organization (WHO) International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP) (www.who.int/ictrp/search/en); searched 13 December 2016. We did not use any date or language restrictions in the electronic searches for trials.
We included randomized trials that compared at least one type of surgical intervention to another surgical or non-surgical intervention or observation.
Two review authors independently completed eligibility screening, data abstraction, 'Risk of bias' assessment, and grading of the evidence.
We identified two randomized trials comparing four different surgical treatments for this condition, two methods in each trial. The studies included a total of 45 children and adults. The surgical treatments were all procedures to weaken the ipsilateral inferior oblique muscle. One study compared inferior oblique myectomy to recession of 10 mm; the other study compared inferior oblique disinsertion to anterior transposition (2 mm anterior to the temporal border of the inferior rectus insertion).We judged both studies to be at unclear risk of bias due to incomplete reporting of methods and other methodological deficiencies.Neither study reported data on the primary outcome of this review, which was the proportion of participants with postoperative surgical success, defined as hypertropia less than 3 prism diopters (PD) in primary gaze. However, both studies reported the average reduction in hypertropia in primary gaze. One study found that at 12 months' postoperatively the average decrease in hypertropia was higher in participants who underwent inferior oblique myectomy than in those who underwent recession, however data were not available for statistical comparison. The other trial found that after at least six months of follow-up, the mean decrease in primary position hypertropia was lower in participants who underwent inferior oblique disinsertion than in those who underwent anterior transposition (mean difference (MD) -5.20 PD, 95% confidence interval (CI) -7.76 to -2.64; moderate-quality evidence).Both trials also reported the average postoperative reduction in vertical deviation in adduction. One study reported that the average reduction in hypertropia in adduction was greater in participants who underwent inferior oblique myectomy than in those who underwent recession, but data were not available for statistical comparison. The other study found a lower decrease in hypertropia in contralateral gaze in participants who underwent inferior oblique disinsertion than in those who underwent anterior transposition (MD -7.10 PD, 95% CI -13.85 to -0.35; moderate-quality evidence).Secondary outcomes with sufficient data for analysis included proportion of participants with preoperative head tilt that resolved postoperatively and proportion of participants who underwent a second surgery. These outcomes were assessed in the trial comparing inferior oblique anterior transposition to disinsertion; both outcomes favored anterior transposition (risk ratio 7.00, 95% CI 0.40 to 121.39 for both outcomes; very low-quality evidence). None of the participants who underwent inferior oblique anterior transposition or disinsertion developed postoperative hypotropia or reversal of the vertical deviation. All participants who underwent inferior oblique anterior transposition developed elevation deficiency, which the authors deemed to be clinically insignificant in all cases, whereas no participants who underwent inferior oblique disinsertion experienced this complication. Additionally, the trial comparing inferior oblique myectomy to recession reported that no participant in either group required another strabismus surgery during the postoperative period.
The two trials included in this review evaluated four inferior oblique weakening procedures for surgical treatment of superior oblique palsy. We found no trials comparing other types of surgical procedures for this disorder. Both studies had enrolled a small number of participants and provided low-quality evidence due to limitations in completeness and applicability. We therefore found no high-quality evidence to support recommendations for optimal surgical treatment of superior oblique palsy. Rigorously designed, conducted, and reported randomized trials are needed to identify the optimal surgical treatment for vertical strabismus in this disorder.