Transpupillary thermotherapy for choroidal melanoma: tumor control and visual results in 100 consecutive cases

Ophthalmology. 1998 Apr;105(4):581-90. doi: 10.1016/S0161-6420(98)94008-8.


Objective: The authors evaluated the results of primary transpupillary thermotherapy for choroidal melanoma in 100 cases.

Design: Prospective nonrandomized analysis of treatment method.

Participants: One hundred patients with choroidal melanoma were studied.

Main outcome measures: Tumor response, ocular side effects, and visual results.

Results: Of 100 consecutive patients with choroidal melanoma treated with transpupillary thermotherapy, the mean tumor basal diameter was 7.1 mm and tumor thickness was 2.8 mm. The tumor margin touched the optic disc in 34 eyes (34%) and was beneath the fovea in 42 eyes (42%). Documented growth was present in 64 eyes (64%), and known clinical risks for growth were present in all of the remaining 36 eyes (36%), with an average of 4 of 5 statistical risk factors for growth per tumor. After a mean of three treatment sessions and 14 months of follow-up, the mean tumor thickness was reduced to 1.4 mm. Treatment was successful in 94 eyes (94%) and failed in 6 eyes (6%). Three patients with amelanotic tumors showed no initial response to thermotherapy, but subsequent intravenous indocyanine green administration during thermotherapy resulted in improved heat absorption and tumor regression to a flat scar. The six eyes classified as treatment failures included four eyes with tumors that showed partial or no response to thermotherapy, thus requiring plaque radiotherapy or enucleation, and two eyes with recurrence, subsequently controlled with additional thermotherapy. After treatment, the visual acuity was the same (within 1 line) or better than the pretreatment visual acuity in 58 eyes (58%) and worse in 42 eyes (42%). The main reasons for poorer vision included treatment through the foveola for subfoveal tumor (25 eyes), retinal traction (10 eyes), retinal vascular obstruction (5 eyes), optic disc edema (1 eye), and unrelated ocular ischemia (1 eye). Temporal location (versus nasal and superior, P = 0.02) and greater distance from the optic disc (P = 0.04) were risks for retinal traction.

Conclusions: Transpupillary thermotherapy may be an effective treatment for small posterior choroidal melanoma, especially those near the optic disc and fovea. Despite satisfactory local tumor control, ocular side effects can result in decreased vision. Longer follow-up will be necessary to assess the impact of thermotherapy on ultimate local tumor control and metastatic disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Choroid Neoplasms / pathology
  • Choroid Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Choroid Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Female
  • Fluorescein Angiography
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Hyperthermia, Induced*
  • Indocyanine Green
  • Male
  • Melanoma / pathology
  • Melanoma / physiopathology
  • Melanoma / therapy*
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pupil
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Visual Acuity / physiology*


  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Indocyanine Green