In vivo confocal microscopy of filtering blebs after trabeculectomy

Arch Ophthalmol. 2006 Aug;124(8):1095-103. doi: 10.1001/archopht.124.8.1095.


Objectives: To analyze filtering blebs after trabeculectomy by means of in vivo confocal microscopy and to correlate the images with clinical bleb appearance and function.

Method: In vivo confocal microscopy using the Heidelberg Retina Tomograph/Rostock Cornea Module (Heidelberg Engineering, Heidelberg, Germany) was performed in 53 filtering blebs in 45 patients 6 days to 30 years postoperatively.

Results: In vivo confocal microscopic findings significantly correlated with good bleb function included the number of epithelial microcysts (P = .03), a large total stromal cyst area (P = .009), the absence of encapsulated stromal cysts (P = .002), minimal vascularization (P = .05), and the absence of tortuous conjunctival vessels (P = .01). In contrast, a hyperreflective condensed bleb stroma was significantly associated with bleb failure (P<.001). Bleb stroma mainly consisting of a rarified collagenlike network was significantly linked to trabeculectomy performed with mitomycin C (P = .001). Epithelial and stromal inflammation were observed at a median of 1 and 4 months after surgery, respectively.

Conclusions: In vivo confocal microscopy using the Heidelberg Retina Tomograph/Rostock Cornea Module permits diagnostic imaging of filtering blebs and differentiation between good and insufficient bleb function. Moreover, the postoperative inflammatory reaction can be monitored directly for adapted postoperative anti-inflammatory treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aqueous Humor / metabolism
  • Blister / pathology*
  • Conjunctiva / pathology
  • Cyst Fluid
  • Female
  • Glaucoma / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Confocal*
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Period
  • Trabecular Meshwork / pathology*
  • Trabeculectomy*