Purpose: To report the treatment of small choroidal melanoma with transpupillary thermotherapy.
Methods: We examined a nonrandomized and uncontrolled series of 14 eyes of 14 patients who were followed up with serial ophthalmoscopy, ultrasonography, and photography. Transpupillary thermotherapy was performed upon documented evidence of tumor growth.
Results: After transpupillary thermotherapy, mean follow-up +/- SD was 16 +/- 6.41 months (range, 7 to 28 months) with 10 eyes followed up for at least 1 year. The mean preoperative tumor height was 1.79 +/- 0.59 mm (range, 0.78 to 2.60 mm). Six months after treatment, the mean height was 0.54 mm +/- 0.57 mm (range, 0.00 to 1.16 mm). In 10 eyes, the treated lesion flattened entirely with a mean interval between treatment and flattening of 8.7 months (range, 3 to 21 months). Three patients required retreatment for lack of regression or recurrent growth. The average time to retreatment was 11 months (range, 5 to 15 months). No eye was retreated more than once. There were three amelanotic lesions, all treated in a single session without recurrence. Complications consisted of retinal hemorrhage, retinal vascular occlusion, retinal traction, exudative serous neurosensory detachment, vitreitis, and postoperative pain. The sole treatment failure occurred in an eye treated with a juxtapapillary tumor, with recurrence developing from a previously flattened lesion. This eye was enucleated 10 months after the single initial treatment. At the time of writing, there had been no tumor-related death.
Conclusions: Transpupillary thermotherapy may represent a viable treatment alternative for both pigmented and amelanotic small choroidal melanoma. Diligent follow-up is axiomatic because retreatment may be necessary. Recurrent tumors may develop from flat lesions. Juxtapapillary tumors may be at higher risk for recurrence. Definitive statements regarding the role of transpupillary thermotherapy in the management of small choroidal melanoma await 5-year and 10-year morbidity and mortality data.