Descemet's membrane endothelial keratoplasty: clinical results of single versus triple procedures (combined with cataract surgery)

Ophthalmology. 2014 Feb;121(2):454-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2013.09.032. Epub 2013 Nov 16.


Purpose: To compare the outcomes of triple Descemet's membrane endothelial keratoplasty (DMEK) versus DMEK alone in pseudophakic eyes.

Design: Retrospective, comparative, interventional case series.

Participants: Patients with Fuchs' endothelial dystrophy, secondary corneal edema, and prior failed endothelial keratoplasty with or without prior cataract extraction.

Methods: Outcomes of 492 DMEK procedures performed between April 2010 and August 2012 were reviewed; 292 pseudophakic eyes underwent DMEK (group 1) and 200 eyes had concurrent cataract surgery with DMEK (group 2).

Main outcome measures: Corrected distance visual acuity, endothelial cell loss, immediate and early postoperative complications.

Results: The mean age at the time of surgery was 70 years (range, 47-94 years) in group 1 and 64 years (range, 46-90 years) in group 2 (P <0.0001). At 6 months, the median corrected distance visual acuity was 20/25 (range, 20/16-20/80; n = 164) in group 1 and 20/20 (range, 20/16-20/100; n = 121) in group 2 (P <0.0001), excluding 21 eyes with retinal or optic nerve problems. The DMEK graft failed to clear in 9 eyes (3.1%) in group 1 and 7 eyes (3.5%) in group 2 (P = 0.34); all were regrafted successfully with DMEK. No further graft failures occurred during the follow-up period. The air reinjection rate was 30% in group 1 and 29% in group 2 (P = 0.69). The air reinjection rate dropped significantly in both groups, from 45% to 16%, after use of viscoelastic was eliminated during the tissue insertion step. The median endothelial cell loss at 3 to 6 months did not differ significantly between groups (26% in both).

Conclusions: Triple DMEK was not associated with any higher risk of complications than DMEK alone. Compared with sequential management of patients with concomitant cataract and endothelial dysfunction, triple DMEK is an effective strategy in rapid visual rehabilitation and offers the advantage of a 1-stage procedure, with reduced risks and costs.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cataract / complications
  • Cell Count
  • Corneal Edema / surgery*
  • Corneal Endothelial Cell Loss / diagnosis
  • Descemet Stripping Endothelial Keratoplasty*
  • Endothelium, Corneal / pathology
  • Female
  • Fuchs' Endothelial Dystrophy / surgery*
  • Graft Rejection
  • Humans
  • Lens Implantation, Intraocular*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phacoemulsification*
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Pseudophakia / surgery*
  • Reoperation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vision Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Visual Acuity / physiology