Objective: To describe the prevention and management of various types of graft detachment after Descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty.
Methods: In 150 consecutive eyes that underwent Descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty, the incidence and type of graft detachment were studied at 1, 3, 6, 9, 12, and 24 months after surgery in a nonrandomized, prospective clinical study at a tertiary referral center. Four groups of detachments were identified: a partial detachment of one-third or less of the graft surface area (n = 16; group 1); a partial detachment of more than one-third of the graft surface area (n = 8; group 2); a graft positioned upside down (n = 4; group 3); and a free-floating Descemet roll in the host anterior chamber (n = 8; group 4).
Results: Partial or complete graft detachment was found in 36 cases (24%), of which 18 (12%) were clinically significant. All 24 eyes with a partial detachment (groups 1 and 2) showed spontaneous corneal clearance, and all but 6 of these eyes (75%) reached visual acuity of 20/40 or better (≥0.5). A reversed clearance pattern and interface spikes were observed in eyes with the graft positioned upside down (group 3). Eyes with a free-floating graft (group 4) showed persistent corneal edema. Detachments were associated with inward folds (12 eyes [33%]), insufficient air-bubble support (7 eyes [19%]), upside-down graft positioning (4 eyes [11%]), use of plastic materials (2 eyes [6%]), irido-graft synechiae (1 eye [3%]), poor endothelial morphology (1 eye [3%]), and stromal irregularity under the main incision (1 eye [3%]); 14 (58%) of the partial detachments were localized inferiorly.
Conclusions: Awaiting spontaneous clearance may be advocated in eyes with a partial detachment. Minor adjustments in surgical protocol as well as careful patient selection may further reduce the incidence of graft detachment after Descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty to 4% or less.
Trial registration: clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT00521898.