Purpose: To qualitatively assess the extent and pattern of endothelial trauma on corneal donor Descemet-stripping automated endothelial keratoplasty (DSAEK) buttons resulting from DSAEK insertion forceps.
Methods: An in vitro model was used with corneoscleral rims, DSAEK quality corneal donor tissue, and DSAEK insertion forceps. After insertion of the donor button through the corneoscleral rim, a vital dye assay was used to identify devitalized and necrotic endothelial cells (with alizarin red S and typan blue).
Results: Corneal buttons evaluated with the forceps delivery model showed that, for each arm of the forceps, there were 2 parallel bands of purple/red staining. In addition, orthogonal wrinkles of scattered blue devitalized nuclei were seen in a parallel arrangement.
Conclusions: The DSAEK insertion forceps resulted in a reproducible pattern of endothelial damage. A thorough understanding of iatrogenic endothelial trauma could result in improved forceps design and perhaps help mitigate the high rate of donor dislocation and graft failure in the future.