To compare the one-year outcomes of preloaded Descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty (pDMEK) and non-preloaded DMEK (n-pDMEK) in patients with Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy (FECD).
This retrospective comparative cohort study consecutively included 68 eyes with Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy who underwent either pDMEK (n = 38) or n-pDMEK (n = 30) performed by cornea fellows with an experienced surgeon between 2016 and 2018 at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. Exclusion criteria were previous surgery (other than uncomplicated cataract surgery) and any documented evidence of macular or other corneal diseases. Corrected distance visual acuity (CDVA), central corneal thickness, intraocular pressure, patient characteristics, postprocessing endothelial cell count, donor graft data, and complications were compared.
CDVA showed similar results for pDMEK (0.12 ± 0.11 logarithm of the minimal angle of resolution [LogMAR]) and n-pDMEK (0.13 ± 0.13 LogMAR) (P = 0.827). Sixty-six percent of the pDMEK eyes and 57% of the n-pDMEK eyes achieved a VA of ≥0.1 LogMAR, and 95% and 97%, respectively, achieved a CDVA ≥0.3 LogMAR. The preoperative central corneal thickness of pDMEK and n-pDMEK (644 ± 62.2 μm, 660.5 ± 56.2 μm) decreased significantly after surgery (525.1 ± 43.6 μm, 526.5 ± 45.2 μm, P < 0.001), with no difference between groups (P = 0.840). The postprocessing endothelial cell count did not differ between pDMEK (2959.2 ± 182.9 cells/mm2) and n-pDMEK (2939.3 ± 278.7 cells/mm2) (P = 0.484). Complication rates were comparable with just the rebubbling performed in a minor procedure room showing a lower rate for pDMEK (13.16%) compared with n-pDMEK (33.33%) (P < 0.045).
One-year clinical outcomes were similar between pDMEK and n-pDMEK procedures, rendering eye bank–prepared pDMEK tissues a useful tool in the treatment of endothelial dysfunction.