Purpose To report on the occurrence of corneal guttae after Descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty (DMEK) in eyes operated on for Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy (FECD).
Material and Methods Case series of 10 eyes of 10 patients operated on for FECD at a tertiary referral center between 2008 and 2019. Average patient age was 61±12 years and 3 patients were female and 6 were male. Five patients were phakic and 4 pseudophakic. Average donor age was 67±9 years.
Results During routine postoperative consultation, specular microscopy images showed suspected recurrence of guttae in 10 eyes after DMEK. Presence of guttae was subsequently confirmed in 9 cases by confocal microscopy and in one case by histology. Six out of 10 patients (60%) had undergone bilateral DMEK, but all only showed recurrence of guttae in one eye. In 9 eyes guttae recurred after primary DMEK, while in one eye recurrence was after a re-DMEK that has been performed 56 months after the first DMEK with no signs of guttae after primary DMEK. Suspected guttae were visible on specular microscopy images already at 1 month after DMEK in most cases.
No guttae had been noted during donor cornea processing in the eye bank. Preoperative donor endothelial cell density (ECD) had been 2643±145 cells/mm2 and 1-year postoperative ECD was 1047±458 cells/mm2 (n=8).
Conclusion Recurrence of guttae after DMEK is most likely due to guttae on the donor graft that were not detectable by routine slit-lamp and light-microscopy evaluation in the eye bank. Better screening methods for guttae detection need to be developed for eye banks to avoid releasing tissue for transplantation that contains guttae or is prone for postoperative guttae formation.
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