Objective To describe the prevention and management of various types of graft detachment after Descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty.
Methods In 150 consecutive eyes that underwent Descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty, the incidence and type of graft detachment were studied at 1, 3, 6, 9, 12, and 24 months after surgery in a nonrandomized, prospective clinical study at a tertiary referral center. Four groups of detachments were identified: a partial detachment of one-third or less of the graft surface area (n = 16; group 1); a partial detachment of more than one-third of the graft surface area (n = 8; group 2); a graft positioned upside down (n = 4; group 3); and a free-floating Descemet roll in the host anterior chamber (n = 8; group 4).
Results Partial or complete graft detachment was found in 36 cases (24%), of which 18 (12%) were clinically significant. All 24 eyes with a partial detachment (groups 1 and 2) showed spontaneous corneal clearance, and all but 6 of these eyes (75%) reached visual acuity of 20/40 or better (≥0.5). A reversed clearance pattern and interface spikes were observed in eyes with the graft positioned upside down (group 3). Eyes with a free-floating graft (group 4) showed persistent corneal edema. Detachments were associated with inward folds (12 eyes [33%]), insufficient air-bubble support (7 eyes [19%]), upside-down graft positioning (4 eyes [11%]), use of plastic materials (2 eyes [6%]), irido-graft synechiae (1 eye [3%]), poor endothelial morphology (1 eye [3%]), and stromal irregularity under the main incision (1 eye [3%]); 14 (58%) of the partial detachments were localized inferiorly.
Conclusions Awaiting spontaneous clearance may be advocated in eyes with a partial detachment. Minor adjustments in surgical protocol as well as careful patient selection may further reduce the incidence of graft detachment after Descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty to 4% or less.
Trial Registration clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT00521898