To examine the corneal transplant rejection rate and the rate of graft failure subsequent to rejection in the first 2 years after endothelial keratoplasty (EK) and to compare this to background data for similar cases of penetrating keratoplasty (PK).
Anonymized data from consecutive cases of EK [deep lamellar (DLEK) or Descemet stripping (DSEK)] for Fuchs corneal endothelial dystrophy or pseudophakic bullous keratopathy operated on before August 2004 were collected in 4 participating centers. The number and timing of rejection episodes and cases of subsequent graft failure were recorded, together with the time to cessation of topical steroid medication. Two-year postoperative findings were compared with background data for similar patients undergoing PK recorded in the Swedish Corneal Transplant Registry.
Rejection episodes were less frequent after EK than PK (P = 0.035). Fifteen (7.5%) of 199 EK cases had a rejection episode in the first 2 years after surgery versus 92 (13%) of 708 PK cases. Graft failure after rejection in EK may have been less frequent than in PK (P = 0.063), with only 1 (6.7%) case of rejection after EK versus 26 (28.3%) cases of rejection after PK proceeding to graft failure. A strong trend toward continued use of low-dose topical steroid medication was observed in the EK group. Eighty percent of EK patients were still taking topical steroid medication 2 years after surgery, whereas topical steroid medication had been ceased within a year of surgery in almost all PK patients in the comparator group.
Corneal transplant rejection is less frequent and may be less severe after EK than after PK. It is not yet clear whether these apparent differences are simply a product of relatively prolonged postoperative topical steroid cover in EK patients.
From the *Moorfields Eye Hospital, London, UK; the †Devers Eye Institute, Portland, OR; the ‡Price Vision Group, Indianapolis, IN; the §Cornea Research Foundation of America, Indianapolis, IN; the ¶Carolina Eye Associates, Pinehurst, NC; and the Department of Ophthalmology, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Mölndal, Sweden.
Received for publication December 6, 2006; revision received May 9, 2007; accepted May 11, 2007.
Reprints: Bruce Allan, Moorfields Eye Hospital, City Road, London EC1V 2PD, UK (e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org).