Background: A central retinal artery occlusion is a potentially blinding retinal vascular event with no effective treatment regimen available. Recently, a few reports have described improved vision in eyes with central retinal artery occlusions after selective fibrinolytic therapy followed by long-term systemic anticoagulation. Acceptance of this treatment, however, has been hampered by a paucity of confirmatory reports and its potential for producing serious hemorrhagic complications. Our report independently confirms the beneficial effects of selective thrombolysis, even with the use of only short-term, post-procedure systemic heparinization.
Methods: A case report of selective fibrinolysis of an occluded central retinal artery using urokinase infusion into the ophthalmic artery followed with only 12 h of systemic heparinization is described.
Results: A 65-year-old man presenting with a central retinal artery occlusion of less than 4-h duration enjoyed an improvement of vision from counting-fingers acuity to 20/20 after selective fibrinolysis with urokinase and only 12 h of systemic heparinization. No hemorrhagic or thrombotic complications occurred.
Conclusions: Selective thrombolysis with urokinase followed by short-term systemic heparinization can effectively treat a central retinal artery occlusion. Whereas the authors acknowledge that a single case does not prove that short-term heparinization is better than long-term heparinization, it does show that the latter is not always required.