Anterior segment optical coherence tomography-guided big-bubble technique

Ophthalmology. 2013 Mar;120(3):471-476. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2012.08.041. Epub 2012 Nov 21.


Purpose: To evaluate the feasibility of intraoperative anterior segment (AS) optical coherence tomography (OCT) for quantification of the corneal depth reached with the dissecting cannula used for deep anterior lamellar keratoplasty, as well as its correlation with the success rate of big-bubble formation.

Design: Retrospective, noncomparative, interventional case series.

Participants: One hundred consecutive keratoconus patients.

Intervention: Deep anterior lamellar keratoplasty was performed using the big-bubble technique. During surgery, the cannula used for pneumatic dissection was inserted into the peripheral stroma and advanced as deep and far toward the center as believed adequate by the surgeon. Then, after retracting the cannula, AS OCT was performed. The cannula was placed back in position and creation of the big bubble was attempted.

Main outcome measures: Stromal depth reached with the cannula tip, success rate in achieving big-bubble formation, and complication rate.

Results: Bubble formation was obtained in 70 of 100 eyes (70%). In all remaining eyes, the procedure was completed by manual deep lamellar dissection. The average depth reached by the cannula tip was 104.3±34.1 μm from the internal corneal surface; the mean value recorded in cases of successful big-bubble formation (90.4±27.7 μm) was statistically lower than that measured in failed procedures (136.7±24.2 μm). In 1 case, corneal perforation occurred during the insertion of the cannula and required conversion to penetrating keratoplasty (PK). In 8 eyes, small microperforations occurred during stromal excision but could be managed conservatively, avoiding conversion to PK. In 2 advanced cones, an incomplete bubble formation was obtained, necessitating manual peripheral stromal removal.

Conclusions: Successful big-bubble formation can be anticipated if pneumatic dissection is attempted at a sufficiently deep level. Although an ideal depth could not be defined, AS OCT allows objective evaluation of the depth reached by the cannula tip used for pneumatic dissection. The AS OCT findings may confirm the decision to proceed with air injection. It is possible that cannula repositioning based on the AS OCT depth may improve the success rate for big-bubble formation.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anterior Eye Segment / pathology*
  • Bowman Membrane / pathology
  • Bowman Membrane / surgery
  • Catheterization / methods
  • Corneal Pachymetry
  • Corneal Stroma / pathology
  • Corneal Stroma / surgery
  • Corneal Transplantation / methods*
  • Epithelium, Corneal / pathology
  • Epithelium, Corneal / surgery
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Keratoconus / pathology
  • Keratoconus / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence*
  • Visual Acuity / physiology
  • Young Adult