Role of corneal biopsy in the management of infectious keratitis

Curr Opin Ophthalmol. 2022 Jul 1;33(4):290-295. doi: 10.1097/ICU.0000000000000852. Epub 2022 Jun 16.


Purpose of review: The aim of this study was to review the existing literature and investigate the role of microbiologic culture and histopathologic examination of corneal biopsies in the management of infectious keratitis.

Recent findings: Corneal biopsy continues to be a significantly useful tool in the diagnosis and tailored management of infectious keratitis. Several techniques can be employed for tissue collection, handling and processing to optimize diagnostic yield and maximize safety, including emerging femtosecond laser-assisted biopsy.

Summary: Corneal opacities represent a significant cause of global blindness, and infectious keratitis is the most common cause. Organism identification in progressive infectious keratitis is essential for proper management. However, microbiological culture alone has a high rate of false-negative results. Records from the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute were retrospectively searched for patients between 1 January 2015, and 31 December 2019, who underwent corneal biopsy, therapeutic keratoplasty or endothelial graft removal for infectious keratitis and had specimens bisected and submitted for evaluation with both microbiologic culture and histopathologic examination. Detection of bacteria, fungus and mycobacteria was not statistically different between culture and histopathology. Microbiology and histopathology are complementary methods for the identification of causative microorganisms in corneal specimens with presumed infectious keratitis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy / methods
  • Cornea / pathology
  • Corneal Transplantation* / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Keratitis* / diagnosis
  • Keratitis* / etiology
  • Retrospective Studies