University of Iowa Health Care

Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

Purtscher Retinopathy

Contributor: Jesse Vislisel, MD

Photographers: Antoinette Venckus, CRA; Stefani Karakas, CRA

Purtscher retinopathy is the appearance of cotton wool spots, hemorrhages, and retinal edema located predominantly around the optic disc. It is caused by complement activation after acute crushing injuries to the head or thorax. Similar-appearing Purtscherlike retinopathy can be caused by a variety of etiologies including acute pancreatitis, chronic renal failure, autoimmune diseases, fat embolism, amniotic fluid embolism, retrobulbar anesthesia, and orbital steroid injection. Below are images of two separate patients with Purtscher retinopathy after compressive injuries to the chest.

Purtscher retinopathy

Purtscher retinopathy

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Ophthalmic Atlas Images by, The University of Iowa are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

last updated: 02/25/2015