Indications of Keratoplasty and Outcomes of Deep Anterior Lamellar Keratoplasty Compared to Penetrating Keratoplasty

Cureus. 2021 Mar 11;13(3):e13825. doi: 10.7759/cureus.13825.


Background Corneal diseases are a significant cause of visual impairment and blindness. Despite the treatable nature of many corneal diseases before visual demise, many cases of advanced disease necessitating keratoplasty for visual rehabilitation are encountered. A mismatch between the number of corneal donors and potential recipients also exists worldwide, with underutilization of certain types of keratoplasty techniques that may allow more efficient use of this limited resource. Methodology A retrospective cohort study of all cases of optical corneal transplantations performed from January 1, 2015 to October 31, 2020 was performed. Indications for keratoplasty, type of keratoplasty, complications, intraocular pressure elevation, and best corrected visual acuity (BCVA) by category and range at different time intervals were collected and analyzed. Findings were compared between penetrating keratoplasty (PK) and deep anterior lamellar keratoplasty (DALK) for all indications, specifically for keratoconus (KCN). Results A total of 58 corneal transplants meeting our criteria were performed during the study period. PK was performed for 29 eyes, DALK for 28 eyes, and endothelial keratoplasty for one eye. The most frequently encountered indication was KCN (62.1%). The number of eyes with BCVA of 20/100 or better increased from preoperative BCVA, 37/58 eyes had BCVA worse than 20/100 before keratoplasty (63.8%), while at the time of last follow-up 45/58 eyes had BCVA of 20/100 or better (77.6%). At the time of last follow-up 16/58 had BCVA in the range of 20/20 to 20/40 (27.6%) and 29/58 eyes had BCVA in the range of 20/50 to 20/100 (50%). Comparison of all cases of PK to DALK for all indications showed significantly better BCVA by category at one year, at last follow-up, and BCVA range at last follow-up (p = 0.032, 0.001, and 0.014, respectively). Although better visual acuity results by category and range at one year and last follow-up, respectively, were observed in more patients undergoing DALK than PK, for KCN the results were not statistically significant (p = 1.00, 1.00, 0.417, and 0.374, respectively). Overall, 70% of recorded complications, intraocular pressure (IOP) elevations, and graft rejections were seen in eyes that underwent PK; however, these findings were not statistically significant (p = 0.297). Graft failures occurred more frequently with PK than deep anterior keratoplasty when analyzed for all indications of keratoplasty (p = 0.010). Conclusions Despite advancement and improvements in surgical techniques, statistics continue to show underutilization of the invaluable resource of donor corneas, with PK still being performed more than DALK for diseases that do not affect the endothelium. Our study found superior visual acuity outcomes of DALK as well as the advantages of less frequent complications, IOP elevations, graft rejections, and graft failures. We encourage ophthalmologists to utilize DALK in appropriate candidates to more fully utilize the scarce and potentially vision-restoring resource of donor corneal tissue.

Keywords: corneal transplantation; deep anterior lamellar keratoplasty; keratoconus; keratoplasty; penetrating keratoplasty.