A cavernous malformation of the optic nerve (CMON) is a rare condition that often presents with an abrupt decline in vision. Acute management of ruptured optic nerve cavernous malformations is generally surgical, although the timing of surgery is controversial.
A 47-year-old female experienced the sudden loss of vision in her left eye. Examination showed that this eye was nearly blind, and her right eye had a temporal field defect. Neuroimaging showed hemorrhage in her left optic nerve and optic chiasm. She was taken to the operating room on an emergent basis where the optic canal was decompressed, the hemorrhage was evacuated, and a vascular malformation with features of a cavernoma was removed from the optic nerve. Over the next 2 days, the vision in her right eye significantly recovered.
CMONs remain rare, and it is unlikely that enough cases can be gathered to form a larger trial to compare the role and timing of surgery. On the basis of our experience with this case, the authors recommend that acute CMON-related hematomas should be treated as a surgical emergency and managed with acute optic nerve decompression, hematoma evacuation, and cavernoma resection to improve chances of vision recovery and prevent further vision loss.