Secondary Logo

Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Donor-Related Nontuberculous Mycobacterial Interface Infection After Descemet Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty

Van Landeghem, Ruben, MD*; Foets, Beatrijs, MD, PhD*; Desmet, Stefanie; Vanhaecke, Maarten, RN; Hua, Minh-Tri, MD*

doi: 10.1097/ICO.0000000000001895
Case Report

Purpose: To describe the first reported case of Mycobacterium chelonae–related interface keratitis after Descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty (DMEK), successfully treated with DMEK exchange.

Methods: A case of donor-related DMEK interface keratitis, treated with medical therapy and DMEK exchange, was studied retrospectively.

Results: A patient with Fuchs endothelial dystrophy developed infectious interface keratitis after DMEK. In cultures of the donor cornea transport medium, M. chelonae was isolated. Subsequent clinical investigation showed early signs of infectious keratitis with multiple infiltrates at the donor–graft interface. Cultures at the cornea bank of origin also showed M. chelonae, indicating a donor-related infection. Because of unsuccessful medical therapy, the DMEK graft was exchanged 4.5 months after initial DMEK. After 2 weeks, some interface precipitates appeared. These precipitates regressed over the following months with continued medical therapy. Antibiotic therapy was successfully ended 5 months after DMEK exchange.

Conclusion: This case highlights the importance of early diagnosis and intensive treatment of nontuberculous mycobacterial interface keratitis. If intensive medical therapy is able to contain infection but fails to eradicate interface keratitis, DMEK exchange is a possible treatment option.

*Department of Ophthalmology, University Hospitals Leuven, Leuven, Belgium;

Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Laboratory of Clinical Bacteriology and Mycology, University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium; and

Leuven Tissue Bank, University Hospitals Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.

Correspondence: Ruben Van Landeghem, MD, Department of Ophthalmology, University Hospitals Leuven, Herestraat 49, 3000 Leuven, Belgium (e-mail:

The authors have no funding or conflicts of interest to disclose.

Received June 26, 2018

Received in revised form December 23, 2018

Accepted December 29, 2018

Copyright © 2019 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.