Purpose: To evaluate a single eye bank's measurement of endothelial cell density (ECD) of Descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty (DMEK) grafts before and after preparation using 2 separate counting methods.
Methods: A series of 60 donor tissues were prepared for DMEK surgery. One to 4 specular images of the central endothelium were taken both before and after preparation, and ECDs were evaluated for a total of 345 unique images. Images were then masked and provided to the Cornea Image Analysis Reading Center (CIARC) for independent analysis.
Results: Before preparation, average eye bank-determined ECD with the center method was 2678 ± 259 cells/mm and was 2599 ± 280 cells/mm CIARC-determined by the variable frame method (P < 0.001, n = 176). After preparation, eye bank-determined ECD was 2719 ± 265 cells/mm and CIARC-determined ECD was 2615 ± 344 cells/mm (P < 0.001, n = 169). The difference in ECD before and after DMEK preparation was not found to be statistically significant when evaluated using either analysis method (P = 0.19; P = 0.64) before and after preparation, respectively.
Conclusions: Although the absolute ECD value may differ by the analysis method statistically, pre- and post-DMEK preparation ECDs did not significantly change by either analysis method. Other methods such as vital staining to assess tissue damage after preparation in conjunction with specular microscopy are suggested.