Purpose: Emergency keratoplasties for inflamed eyes are considered to have a worse prognosis because of immunologic graft rejection. Amniotic membranes have antiinflammatory and antiangiogenic abilities. Therefore, amniotic membrane transplantation (AMT) was performed to stabilize the situation of eyes with severe infectious keratitis before elective penetrating keratoplasty (PK).
Methods: Retrospective, nonrandomized observational case series. Seven to 41 days (median, 20 days) after the onset of intensive antiinfectious medication, an AMT (6 multigrafts and 6 sandwich) was performed in 12 patients [8 men and 4 women; age 46–80 years (median, 66 years)] with herpetic (n = 5), bacterial keratitis (n = 3), or combinations (n = 4). Three to 12 months (median, 5 months) after cessation of the inflammatory status of the eye, a central elective PK (diameter, 7–8 mm) became feasible in 10 eyes. Follow-up ranged from 4 to 38 months (median, 20 months) after PK.
Results: The primary success rate of AMT was 11/12 (92%). Five recurrences (41%) were treated successfully 4 times by repeat AMT (sandwich) and 1 time by emergency PK. In 2 of the 12 eyes, an irreversible endothelial immunologic graft reaction appeared 18 and 21 months after PK. One eye suffered from reversible recurrence of herpetic keratitis on the corneal graft. At the end of the follow-up, 10 of 12 grafts (83%) were clear.
Conclusions: A rapid decrease in the inflammatory reaction and a fast reepithelialization because of AMT after intensive antiinfectious medication in case of severe ulcerative keratitis may help to avoid an emergency keratoplasty and improves the prognosis of the elective keratoplasty.