Background: Blood-retinal barrier breakdown secondary to retinal detachment and retinal detachment repair is a factor in the pathogenesis of proliferative vitreoretinopathy (PVR). We wished to investigate whether an estimated 700 to 1000 ng/ml subretinal dexamethasone concentration at the time of surgery would decrease the blood-retinal barrier breakdown postoperatively.
Methods: Prospective, placebo-controlled, double blind clinical trial. In 34 patients with rhegmatogenous retinal detachment scheduled for conventional scleral buckling retinal detachment surgery, a subconjunctival injection of 0.5 ml dexamethasone diphosphate (10 mg) or 0.5 ml placebo was given 5-6 hours before surgery. Differences in laser flare photometry (KOWA) measurements taken 1, 3 and 6 weeks after randomisation between dexamethasone and placebo were analysed using mixed model ANOVA, while correcting for the preoperative flare measurement.
Results: Six patients did not complete the study, one because of recurrent detachment within 1 week, and five because they missed their postoperative laser flare visits. The use of dexamethasone resulted in a statistically significant decrease in laser flare measurements at the 1-week postoperative visit.
Conclusion: The use of a preoperative subconjunctival injection of dexamethasone decreased 1-week postoperative blood-retina barrier breakdown in patients undergoing conventional scleral buckling retinal detachment surgery. This steroid priming could be useful as a part of a peri-operative regime that would aim at decreasing the incidence of PVR.