To evaluate the difference in endothelial cell damage between 2 donor insertion techniques for Descemet stripping automated endothelial keratoplasty (DSAEK).
Experimental study and prospective case series. Thirty donor corneas and 10 patients undergoing DSAEK with glide insertion were included. Donor cornea lenticules were prepared and a wet lab DSAEK model established. Donor lenticules were inserted either by a “taco” fold (n = 15) or glide insertion (n = 15). Endothelial cell damage was assessed by scanning electron microscopy (n = 20) and trypan blue exclusion (n = 10). Endothelial cell count was assessed by specular microscopy in the clinical patients.
Endothelial cell viability and scanning electron microscopy demonstrated 2 different patterns of cell damage in either group. Cell viability and scanning electron microscopy showed there was mean cell damage of 9% and 9.2% , respectively, following glide insertion and 32% and 38%, respectively, following the taco-folded insertion (P = .004). The mean (SD) cell loss in the clinical patients following glide insertion was 25.3% (4.3%) at 6 months.
Endothelial cell damage was higher in a wet lab model following taco-folded insertion compared with glide insertion. Initial clinical results with glide insertion showed satisfactory endothelial cell loss at 6 months.
Folding of the corneal tissue during DSAEK causes more endothelial damage than glide insertion.