Purpose: To evaluate the safety and efficacy of intravitreal methotrexate in the management of primary central nervous system lymphoma (PCNSL) involving the eye.
Design: Retrospective noncomparative interventional case series.
Participants: Sixteen human immunodeficiency virus-negative white patients (5 males and 11 females, aged 30-76 years) with intraocular B cell lymphoma treated with intravitreal methotrexate at Oregon Health & Science University or Hadassah University Hospital between August 1995 and September 2000.
Intervention: Patients were treated with intravitreal methotrexate (400 micro g/0.1 ml) according to a standard induction-consolidation-maintenance regimen and monitored by serial examinations, including measurement of visual acuity, slit-lamp biomicroscopy, and dilated funduscopy.
Main outcome measures: Clinical response to intravitreal chemotherapy, number of injections for clinical remission, visual acuity, complications during study period, length of survival from diagnosis, and cause of death.
Results: Time of follow-up from commencement of the methotrexate injections was 6 to 35 months (median, 18.5 months). Twenty-six of 26 eyes (100%) were cleared clinically of malignant cells after a maximum of 12 methotrexate injections. A second remission was induced in three patients, who were treated with a further course of intravitreal chemotherapy after their tumor recurred within the eye. Complications that occurred during the period of treatment and follow-up included cataract (73% of 26 eyes), corneal epitheliopathy (58% of 26 eyes), maculopathy (42% of 26 eyes), vitreous hemorrhage (8% of 26 eyes), optic atrophy (4% of 26 eyes), and sterile endophthalmitis (4% of 26 eyes). No patient had irreversible loss of vision that could be definitely attributed to the intravitreal injection of methotrexate.
Conclusions: Intravitreal chemotherapy with methotrexate is effective in inducing clinical remission of intraocular tumor in PCNSL with acceptable morbidity. Further study is indicated to determine whether this approach extends life expectancy.