Objective: To evaluate if a standardized combination therapy regimen, utilizing 3 monthly ranibizumab injections followed by navigated laser photocoagulation, reduces the number of total ranibizumab injections required for treatment of diabetic macular edema (DME).
Research design and methods: A 12-month, prospective comparison of 66 patients with center-involving DME: 34 patients with combination therapy were compared to 32 patients treated with ranibizumab monotherapy. All patients initially received 3 monthly ranibizumab injections (loading phase) and additional injections pro re nata (PRN). Combination therapy patients additionally received navigated laser photocoagulation after the loading phase. Main outcome measures were mean number of injections after the loading phase and change in BCVA from baseline to month 12.
Results: Navigated laser combination therapy and ranibizumab monotherapy similarly improved mean BCVA letter score (+8.41 vs. +6.31 letters, p = 0.258). In the combination group significantly less injections were required after the 3 injection loading phase (0.88 ± 1.23 vs. 3.88 ± 2.32, p< = 0.001). By month 12, 84% of patients in the monotherapy group had required additional ranibizumab injections as compared to 35% in the combination group (p< = 0.001).
Conclusions: Navigated laser combination therapy demonstrated significant visual gains in most patients. Retreatment rate and number of injections were significantly lower compared to ranibizumab monotherapy and compared to the results of conventional laser combination therapy previously reported in pivotal anti-VEGF studies.