DMEK versus DSAEK for Fuchs' endothelial dystrophy: A meta-analysis

Eur J Ophthalmol. 2019 Jan;29(1):15-22. doi: 10.1177/1120672118757431. Epub 2018 Apr 16.


Purpose:: To compare the safety and efficacy profiles of Descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty (DMEK) and Descemet stripping automated endothelial keratoplasty (DSAEK) in adult patients with Fuchs' endothelial dystrophy.

Methods:: Electronic database search on MEDLINE and CENTRAL from inception to August 2017. We included all comparative studies of DMEK versus DSAEK in patients with diagnosed Fuchs' endothelial dystrophy. Studies assessing rescue procedures were excluded to minimize bias. Primary outcome: mean difference in best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA) at 3, 6, and 12 months postoperatively. Secondary outcomes: rates of graft primary failure, rejection, and rebubbling; other graft-related issues; mean difference in endothelial cell density; subjective visual outcomes; and patient satisfaction.

Results:: A total of 10 retrospective studies of moderate methodological quality were included (n = 947 eyes, 646 DMEK). BCVA was better with DMEK at all evaluated time points (0.16 logMAR at 12 months) comparing to DSAEK (0.30 logMAR; p < 0.001). DMEK had a 60% lower rate of rejection (risk ratio (RR) 0.4, 95% CI (0.24, 0.67), p = 0.0005), but required more rebubblings (RR = 2.48, 95% CI (1.32, 4.64), p = 0.005). DMEK had more primary graft failures and less endothelial cell density loss, but statistical difference was not reached. More patients were satisfied after DMEK (odds ratio = 10.29, 95% CI (3.55, 29.80), p < 0.0001).

Conclusion:: DMEK showed better postoperative results regarding BCVA, patient satisfaction, and graft-related issues. However, the small number of studies with short follow-up times and other methodological issues prompt us to interpret these results carefully.

Keywords: Corneal transplantation; Descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty; Descemet stripping automated endothelial keratoplasty; Fuchs.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biometry
  • Cell Count
  • Databases, Factual
  • Descemet Membrane / surgery
  • Descemet Stripping Endothelial Keratoplasty / methods*
  • Endothelium, Corneal / pathology
  • Female
  • Fuchs' Endothelial Dystrophy / diagnosis
  • Fuchs' Endothelial Dystrophy / physiopathology
  • Fuchs' Endothelial Dystrophy / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Postoperative Period
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Visual Acuity / physiology