Purpose: To determine the principal risk factors for corneal endothelial injury during phacoemulsification.
Setting: Hayashi Eye Hospital, Fukuoka, Japan.
Methods: We prospectively investigated 859 consecutive eyes of 800 patients who had had phacoemulsification surgery. The percentage of corneal endothelial cell loss at 3 months after surgery was quantitated using specular microscopy. The firmness of the nucleus was graded by Emery's classification prior to surgery. We selected nine variables that could be associated with endothelial injury. The univariate associations between the endothelial cell loss and these variables were evaluated using simple correlation coefficients. A multiple linear regression analysis was performed to identify independent predictors of endothelial cell loss.
Results: In the simple regression analysis, older age, small pupil diameter, high nucleus grade, large nucleus, greater infusion volume, type of IOL implanted, and a greater amount of total emitted ultrasound energy were univariately associated with endothelial cell loss. In the multiple linear regression analysis, the best final model (R2 = 0.42) identified high nucleus grade, greater infusion volume, type of IOL implanted, and large nucleus as independent predictors of endothelial cell loss.
Conclusion: Both univariate and multivariate analyses identified the firmness of the nucleus as the most significant risk factor for endothelial cell loss. Therefore, mechanical contact with nuclear fragments is considered the principal cause of endothelial injury.