Purpose: To ascertain the importance of routine cultures and gram stains in the management of ulcerative keratitis.
Methods: We retrospectively reviewed 119 consecutive corneal ulcers seen at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore. Cultures were obtained of the corneal ulcer and of the lids and conjunctivae of both eyes. Gram stains were performed by the hospital microbiology department on corneal scrapings from each ulcer.
Results: Positive corneal cultures were obtained from 56 eyes (47.1%). Initial antibiotic therapy was changed based on culture results in 14.3% of culture-positive eyes that demonstrated a worsening clinical course. Gram stains were negative in all cases. The sensitivity and specificity of the lid and conjunctival cultures were determined.
Conclusions: Corneal cultures are important in the management of ulcerative keratitis. Lid and conjunctival cultures have low sensitivity and specificity.