Intravitreal chemotherapy for vitreous seeding in retinoblastoma: Recent advances and perspectives

Saudi J Ophthalmol. 2013 Jul;27(3):147-50. doi: 10.1016/j.sjopt.2013.06.003.


For decades intravitreal chemotherapy (IViC) remained virtually banished from the therapeutic armamentarium against retinoblastoma, except as a heroic attempt of salvage before enucleation in only eyes with refractory vitreous seeding. Very recently, we have initiated a reappraisal of this route of administration by (1) profiling eligibility criteria, (2) describing a safety-enhanced injection procedure, (3) adjusting the tumoricidal dose of melphalan, and (4) reporting an unprecedented efficacy in terms of tumor control of vitreous seeding. Since then, intravitreal chemotherapy is being progressively implemented worldwide with great success, but still awaits formal validation by the ongoing prospective phase II clinical trial. As far as preliminary results are concerned, IViC appears to achieve complete vitreous response in 100% of the 35 newly recruited patients irrespective of the previous treatment regimen, including external beam radiotherapy and/or intra-arterial melphalan. In other words, vitreous seeding, still considered as the major cause of primary and secondary enucleation, can now be controlled by IViC. However, sterilization of vitreous seeding does not necessarily translate into eye survival, unless the retinal source of the seeds receives concomitant therapy. In conclusion, IViC, an unsophisticated and cost-effective treatment, is about to revolutionize the eye survival prognosis of vitreous disease in advanced retinoblastoma.

Keywords: Intravitreal chemotherapy; Melphalan; Retinoblastoma; Vitreous seeding.