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Combined Topical and Intracameral Anesthesia in Penetrating Keratoplasty

Segev, Fani MD*; Voineskos, Aristotle N*; Hui, Gladwin*; Law, Michael S. H MD*; Paul, Robert MD*; Chung, Frances MD; Slomovic, Allan R MD*

Clinical Sciences

Background: The standard of care for penetrating keratoplasty (PKP) is either retrobulbar or peribulbar anesthesia combined with seventh cranial nerve akinesia or general anesthesia. These methods are known to be associated with rare but potentially serious adverse ocular and systemic events.

Purpose: To determine the safety and efficacy of combined topical and intracameral anesthesia in addition to intravenous sedation for repeat penetrating keratoplasty (PKP).

Setting: Tertiary-care university hospital.

Methods: In this prospective study, combined topical tetracaine 0.5% and 0.2 cc intracameral 1% lidocaine along with IV sedation with midazolam and fentanyl were used for patients undergoing repeat PKP in 15 eyes of 15 selected patients. The indication for surgery was failed corneal graft. Verbal pain scale (VPS, 0–3) was recorded preoperatively, intraoperatively at 3 time-points (after trephination, after placing 8 interrupted sutures, and after placing the running suture), and postoperatively (1 hour postoperatively, overnight pain, and 1 day postoperatively). Patient and surgeon satisfaction were assessed postoperatively using a scale (1–5). After surgery patients were asked for their preferences comparing the current use of topical anesthesia compared with retrobulbar anesthesia used for their initial PKP.

Results: The mean intraoperative VPS score was 0.51 ± 0.32 (range 0–1.33), and the mean postoperative VPS score was 0.47 ± 0.50 (range 0–1.67). There were no serious intraoperative or postoperative complications. All patients reported high mean satisfaction score of 4.67 ±0.49 (range 4–5). The mean satisfaction score reported by the surgeon was 4.47 ± 0.63 (range 3–5). All patients but 1 (93.3%) preferred combined topical over retrobulbar anesthesia, which they had in their previous surgery.

Conclusions: We found combined topical and intracameral anesthesia to be safe and effective in our selected group of patients undergoing repeat PKP, and it may provide a satisfactory alternative anesthetic modality for patients in whom general, retrobulbar, or peribulbar anesthesia may be contraindicated.

From the Departments of *Ophthalmology and †Anesthesiology, Toronto Western Hospital, University Health Network, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Received for publication September 24, 2003; revision received December 10, 2003; accepted December 10, 2003.

Reprints: Dr Allan R. Slomovic, Department of Ophthalmology, Toronto Western Hospital, 399 Bathurst Street, 7-011 Edith-Cavell Wing, Toronto, Ontario M5T 2S8, Canada (e-mail:

© 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.