Purpose: To evaluate a technique for preparing a donor Descemet membrane carrying autologous endothelium for transplantation in Descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty (DMEK).
Setting: Netherlands Institute for Innovative Ocular Surgery, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
Methods: A 9.5 mm diameter DM carrying autologous endothelium was stripped from 10 corneoscleral rims that had been organ cultured for 1 week. The endothelial cell density (ECD) was evaluated with light microscopy before and immediately after DM was stripped and during 4 additional weeks of organ culture.
Results: The mean ECD was 2701 cells/mm(2) +/- 302 (SD) before and 2719 +/- 322 cells/mm(2) immediately after DM was stripped and declined from 2604 +/- 352 cells/mm(2) after 1 week to 2190 +/- 768 cells/mm(2) after an additional 4 weeks of organ culture (n = 10). Typical "endothelial streaks," ie, linear cellular disruptions observed immediately after DM was stripped, showed complete regeneration after the second culture period.
Conclusions: Descemet grafts for transplantation in DMEK procedures can be surgically prepared from organ-cultured corneal rims and stored for an additional 3 weeks with acceptable endothelial cell loss. Because the donor tissue can be dissected directly from organ-cultured corneoscleral rims, donor preparation for DMEK can be readily accessible to most corneal surgeons.