Comparison of pneumatic retinopexy and scleral buckling in the management of primary rhegmatogenous retinal detachment. Southern Wisconsin Pneumatic Retinopexy Study Group

Am J Ophthalmol. 1998 Nov;126(5):658-68. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9394(98)00181-0.


Purpose: To compare pneumatic retinopexy and scleral buckling for repair of primary rhegmatogenous retinal detachment with respect to visual outcome, single-procedure reattachment rate, and development of proliferative vitreoretinopathy.

Methods: A consecutive series of eyes initially treated with pneumatic retinopexy (n = 56) between March 1986 and February 1996 were compared with a selected group of eyes treated with scleral buckling (n = 86) with similar location and distribution of retinal breaks and absence of proliferative vitreoretinopathy. A regression model was developed to adjust for underlying differences between treatment groups, resulting in a cohort of 50 eyes in each group for final comparison. A minimum follow-up of 6 months was obtained.

Results: Single-procedure reattachment rate was significantly higher for scleral buckle eyes (42 of 50 eyes, 84%) than for pneumatic retinopexy eyes (31 of 50 eyes, 62%; P < or = .01). Correspondingly, reoperation rate was significantly higher for pneumatic retinopexy eyes (19 of 50 eyes, 38%) than for scleral buckle eyes (7 of 50 eyes, 14%; P < or = .01). Multiple regression analysis evaluating perioperative factors demonstrated that the use of pneumatic retinopexy was the sole factor predictive of retinal detachment after a single procedure (relative odds = 2.20, P = .02). Final reattachment rate, after reoperations, was 98% (49 of 50 eyes) in each group. Except for nonphakic eyes, final visual outcome and rate of postoperative proliferative vitreoretinopathy development did not differ significantly between the two procedures.

Conclusions: In phakic eyes, pneumatic retinopexy was associated with a significantly higher reoperation rate than scleral buckling, but resulted in equivalent final visual outcome and reattachment rate after reoperations. If used, it must be incorporated into a strategy in which patient and physician are prepared for a greater chance of reoperation compared to initial management with scleral buckling.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cryosurgery*
  • Female
  • Fluorocarbons / administration & dosage
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Recurrence
  • Reoperation
  • Retinal Detachment / surgery*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Scleral Buckling*
  • Sulfur Hexafluoride / administration & dosage
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Visual Acuity


  • Fluorocarbons
  • perflutren
  • Sulfur Hexafluoride