Clinicopathologic studies of an eye after submacular membranectomy for choroidal neovascularization

Retina. 1995;15(1):43-52. doi: 10.1097/00006982-199515010-00009.


Background: Submacular membranectomy has been suggested as an alternative treatment for subfoveal choroidal neovascularization (CNV). Clinicopathologic features of the right eye of a 59-year-old man with recurrent subfoveal CNV who underwent submacular membranectomy after two unsuccessful laser photocoagulation treatments are reported.

Methods: The surgically excised subfoveal membrane was sectioned serially and evaluated by light microscopy. The globes were obtained postmortem and serial sectioned through the macula and optic nerve head for light microscopy. Ultrastructural study of a tissue section in the center of the lesion was performed.

Results: Histopathologic study of the surgically excised membrane disclosed a thin two-component fibrovascular membrane with the larger component internal to residual retinal pigment epithelium and basal laminar deposit. Photoreceptor outer segments were present on the internal surface of the membrane near one margin. Light and electron microscopic study of the postmortem globe revealed a very thin subfoveal subretinal pigment epithelial fibrovascular membrane with loss of photoreceptor cell layer in a central 0.5 mm area, loss of outer segments, reduction of inner segments, and thinning of the outer nuclear layer in the remainder of the lesion. There was moderate retinal pigment epithelial attenuation and mild basal laminar and basal linear deposits.

Conclusion: Submacular membranectomy for recurrent subfoveal CNV secondary to age-related macular degeneration after two unsuccessful laser photocoagulation treatments appeared to be effective with repopulation of two thirds of the area of membranectomy by extension of attenuated retinal pigment epithelium from adjacent areas. There was, however, persistence or recurrence of CNV, moderate atrophy of the overlying retina with total loss of the photoreceptor cells over the central 0.5 mm of the membrane, and moderate loss of the photoreceptor cells over the remaining area.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Cell Membrane / pathology
  • Choroid / blood supply*
  • Choroid / pathology
  • Choroid / surgery
  • Fluorescein Angiography
  • Fundus Oculi
  • Humans
  • Laser Coagulation
  • Macula Lutea / pathology*
  • Macula Lutea / surgery
  • Macular Degeneration / complications
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / etiology
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / pathology*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / surgery
  • Recurrence
  • Retina / pathology