Background: Enucleation is an approach used for unresponsive end-stage ocular disease often resulting in blind, painful or cosmetically unacceptable eyes.
Methods: We reviewed the clinicopathological data on 3506 enucleations performed over a 50-year period, 1945-1995. Histopathological data were divided into eight groups according to the causes leading to enucleation: trauma, phthisis, corneal disease, inflammation, vitreoretinal disease, glaucoma, tumors and infections.
Results: The study considered 3506 enucleated eyes of 3482 patients, 2467 (70.8%) males and 1011 (29.1%) females (4 sex unspecified). The z-test showed there were significantly more enucleations in males for phthisis (p < 5.05), infections (p < 0.01), trauma (p < 0.01) and inflammation (p < 0.01) and more enucleations for tumors in females (p < 0.01). There were no differences between males and females with regard to enucleations for glaucoma, vitreoretinal and corneal diseases (p > 0.05). The 0-9 years age group was most frequently affected, accounting for 29.7% of the cases. Patients aged less than 30 years constituted 53.6% of all enucleations. The primary or underlying causes leading to enucleation were tumors (1185 eyes, 33.8%), phthisis (587 eyes, 16.7), glaucoma (561 eyes, 16.0%), vitreoretinal diseases (320 eyes, 9.1%), infections (259 eyes, 7.4%), corneal disease (229 eyes, 6.5%), trauma (209 eyes, 6.0%) and inflammation (156 eyes, 4.4%). Time trends in enucleating eyes with different causes showed the number of enucleations for phthisis, infections, corneal diseases, trauma and inflammations had dropped during the ten-year period 1986-1995 compared to 1976-1985 (z-test, p < 0.01). There were no real changes in enucleations for glaucoma and vitreoretinal diseases and there was an increase in the number of enucleations for tumors (p < 0.01).
Conclusions: Improved diagnostic and therapeutic methods, widespread use of photocoagulation in vascular disorders and vitreoretinal surgery in traumas, effective antimicrobial treatment, increasing use of corticosteroids and immunosuppressants, have contributed to the decreasing frequency of enucleation. Tumor patients generally presented late with advanced tumors totally filling the eye, not salvageable by other non-invasive treatment methods. Prompt diagnosis of intraocular malignant tumors (retinoblastoma and malignant melanoma) may reduce the need for enucleation.