Endothelial keratoplasty - a review

Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2010 Mar;38(2):128-40. doi: 10.1111/j.1442-9071.2010.02213.x.


From its inception over a century ago, penetrating keratoplasty grew to become the most common and most successful form of solid tissue transplantation. Yet clinicians have long recognized the limitations of full-thickness corneal transplants, including prolonged visual rehabilitation, unpredictable refractive changes, susceptibility to ocular surface complications and vulnerability to traumatic wound rupture. Selective replacement of diseased or damaged posterior corneal layers was conceptualized and implemented a half century ago. However, it has only been within the past decade that improved techniques and instrumentation have allowed endothelial keratoplasty (EK) to become the preferred treatment for patients with endothelial dysfunction. EK provides more rapid visual recovery, minimizes induced astigmatism and, most importantly, better maintains globe integrity than penetrating keratoplasty. Descemet stripping automated EK is currently the most widely used method. This article covers how EK techniques have evolved over time, considers who is or is not an appropriate candidate for EK, describes Descemet stripping automated EK methods and instrumentation, discusses EK postoperative complications and management and compares visual recovery, refractive outcomes and endothelial cell loss with that of standard penetrating keratoplasty.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Corneal Diseases / pathology
  • Corneal Diseases / surgery*
  • Descemet Stripping Endothelial Keratoplasty / methods*
  • Descemet Stripping Endothelial Keratoplasty / trends*
  • Endothelial Cells / pathology
  • Humans
  • Keratoplasty, Penetrating / methods*
  • Keratoplasty, Penetrating / trends*