Purpose: To compare outcomes with 2 donor dissection methods for Descemet's stripping with endothelial keratoplasty (DSEK).
Design: Retrospective, comparative, nonrandomized case series.
Participants: Three hundred thirty consecutive transplants, 114 with manually dissected and 216 with microkeratome-dissected donor tissue.
Methods: Donor posterior stroma/endothelium was transplanted, after stripping recipient Descemet's membrane/endothelium and dissecting the donor tissue by hand or with a microkeratome.
Main outcome measures: Incidences of donor perforation and donor detachment were compared for all eyes. Visual and refractive outcomes were compared for the first 100 consecutive eyes in each group.
Results: Visual recovery was faster with microkeratome-dissected donor tissue, as evidenced by statistically better best spectacle-corrected visual acuity (VA) in that group 1 month after surgery (P = 0.015). Best spectacle-corrected VA was statistically comparable for the 2 groups preoperatively and 3 and 6 months postoperatively. Best spectacle-corrected VA was not correlated significantly with postoperative central corneal thickness (P = 0.25). Corneal thickness was significantly higher in the microkeratome group (690+/-77 mum, compared with 610+/-62 mum after hand dissection; P<0.0001). Mean refractive astigmatism was 1.5 diopters (D) preoperatively and 6 months postoperatively in both groups. Spherical equivalent refraction did not change in the microkeratome group (P = 0.64) but increased by 0.66 D in the hand dissection group (P = 0.0007). Methods designed to remove fluid from the donor/recipient graft interface ultimately reduced the detachment rate to <1% (1 in the last 140 cases). No donor perforations occurred in 216 microkeratome dissections, compared with 5 in 114 hand dissections (P = 0.002).
Conclusions: Microkeratome dissection reduced the risk of donor tissue perforation, provided faster visual recovery after DSEK, and did not alter the refractive outcome.