Objective: To investigate the efficacy and safety of treating submacular hemorrhages secondary to age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) with intravitreous recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (rt-PA) and gas under various conditions.
Design: Prospective, noncomparative case series.
Participants: Forty-three consecutive eyes of 42 patients with recent (range, 2-28 days) subfoveal hemorrhage secondary to ARMD were included in this study. The size of subretinal hemorrhage ranged from 0.25 to 30 disc areas.
Methods: All patients were treated with intravitreous injections of rt-PA (50 microg) and sulfur hexafluoride (0.5 ml). Postoperative prone positioning was maintained for 24 to 72 hours. Patient follow-up ranged from 4 to 18 months (mean, 6 months).
Main outcome measures: Best and final postoperative visual acuity in relation to size and onset of hemorrhage, displacement of subretinal blood, and surgical complications.
Results: Best postoperative visual acuity compared with preoperative visual acuity was improved two or more Snellen lines in 19 eyes (44%) and stable in 24 eyes (56%). Final visual acuity was improved two or more lines in 13 eyes (30%), stable in 26 (61%), and two or more lines worse in 4 eyes (9%). Duration of hemorrhage <or=14 days was associated with a better gain of lines of vision (P = 0.0058). Best postoperative acuity was maintained for an average of 4.2 months (range, 0.5-12 months). Overall, complete displacement of blood from under the fovea was achieved in 35 eyes (81%). Nine eyes (21%) developed recurrent hemorrhage, which required repeat treatment. In three patients (7%), a mild breakthrough vitreous hemorrhage was observed.
Conclusions: Our findings suggest that intravitreous injections of rt-PA and gas are of value for an improved and accelerated visual recovery in ARMD patients with submacular hemorrhage, although final visual outcome is often limited by the progression of the underlying ARMD. Patients with retinal hemorrhages of recent onset (<or=14 days) seem to have the most favorable results. A rapid displacement of submacular blood may reveal discrete choroidal neovascular membranes amenable to further treatment. The complication rate of this minimally invasive technique seems to be low.