Background: The ideal management of intraocular inflammation may require a tissue diagnosis. Diagnostic vitrectomy is a well-established method for acquiring such tissue. However, in some patients, the diagnostic pathology is limited to the choroid and retina and vitrectomy may yield no useful information. In such cases, a more aggressive surgical approach to obtain tissue may be useful.
Methods: The authors performed chorioretinal biopsies on seven patients with progressive chorioretinal lesions of unknown etiology. Indications for biopsy included: (1) macular-threatening lesions unresponsive to therapy, (2) suspicion of malignancy, or (3) suspicion of an infectious etiology. In all cases, it was expected that the results would alter therapy or other aspects of clinical care. Preoperative visual acuity was 20/200 or worse in each eye biopsied with one or more peripheral chorioretinal lesions present. Biopsy specimens were divided into three parts and submitted for light and electron microscopy, immunohistochemistry, and tissue culture.
Results: On the basis of the biopsy findings, a diagnosis of multifocal choroiditis and subretinal fibrosis was rendered in three eyes, sarcoidosis in two eyes, and viral retinitis in two eyes. Therapy was changed in five patients. Final visual acuity was unchanged or improved in five eyes. Complications included the progression of lens opacity in all eyes and the development of phthisis in one eye that was extensively diseased preoperatively.
Conclusion: Chorioretinal biopsy may provide useful information for determining the diagnosis and guiding the subsequent management of patients with progressive chorioretinal lesions of unknown etiology.