To describe the characteristics, causes, treatment, and outcome, particularly the fate of the intraocular implant and visual acuity, of traumatic wound dehiscence occurring in patients who had penetrating keratoplasty (PK).
Between 1989 and 1997, 21 corneal transplant patients sustained traumatic wound dehiscence and were treated at our hospital. Graft dehiscence was managed with primary wound closure in all patients, except in some who required some combination of anterior vitrectomy, intraocular lens removal and reimplantation, and corneal regrafting.
The incidence of traumatic wound dehiscence among patients on whom we performed PK over a period of 9 years was 2.53%. This complication occurred, on average, 3.4 years (2 months to 13 years) after PK. Most patients (76%) were men, and the average age at dehiscence was 59 years (range, 15–82 years). All corneal ruptures occurred at the graft-host junction, which had neither particular site preference nor quadrant specificity. Of the 16 eyes that were pseudophakic, nine (56.3%) had either loss of implants or dislocation of intraocular lens so severe that lens removal was imperative. In the end, only five (23.8%) of the 21 grafts retained clarity. Of the remaining 16 eyes, seven were regrafted, of which five (71.4%) grafts remained clear. Of the nine grafts that became opaque, six eyes (28.6%) atrophied. At the last follow-up, only six eyes (28.6%) had visual acuity of 20/200 or better, and six eyes had no perception of light. Final visual acuity was found to correlate inversely with the severity and extent of wound separation.
Traumatic wound dehiscence is not rare after PK. The elderly corneal transplant patient may be more prone to such an injury. Corneal rupture at the graft-host junction in all of our cases means the persistence of wound weakness after PK. Although graft survival and visual outcome are generally poor after the injury, the restoration of a satisfactory visual result is possible after regrafting, insofar as the involved eye is free of intractable glaucoma or posterior segment damage.