Purpose: In order to reduce the risk of infection, we analyzed each stage of conservation of human cornea in organ culture at +31 degrees C.
Methods: This epidomiological study was conducted in 266 human corneas preserved in organ culture between January 1991 and December 1993. There were 3 stages: In the period of preservation (analysis of the contaminated medium), Before clinical use of the graft (analysis of the preservation medium), After the penetrating keratoplasty (analysis of the corneo-scleral rim and the transportation medium). The bacteriological media used were thioglycolate broth, trypticase soja and Sabouraud.
Results: In 266 storage media, 42 (15.7%) cultures are positive. The most commonly found organism was Staphylococcus aureus (21.4%). At the end of the conservation procedure, all of the cultures of the media were sterile (n = 165). After penetrating keratoplasty, 8 cultures were positive for the transportation medium and the corneo-scleral rim (5.1%), 3 cultures were positive for the corneo-scleral rim only (1.9%) and 5 cultures were positive (3.2%) for the transportation medium without contamination of the corneo-scleral rim.
Conclusion: Preservation at +31 degrees C in organ culture of human corneas allows elimination of the contaminated or potentially contaminant corneas before an eventual transplantation. In our experience, the risk of infection is especially situated in the period of preservation which shows the insuffiency of the decontamination procedures or the antibiotical content of the medium and probably the virulence of the organisms in donors hospitalized for long period.