To describe clinical outcomes of a minimally invasive technique for direct corneal neurotization to treat neurotrophic keratopathy.
All cases of corneal neurotization for neurotrophic keratopathy performed by a single surgeon using minimally invasive direct corneal neurotization were reviewed. The supraorbital donor nerve was directly transferred to the cornea through an upper eyelid crease incision using either a combination of endoscopic and direct visualization or direct visualization alone. Detailed ocular and adnexal examinations as well as Cochet–Bonnet esthesiometry of the affected cornea were performed. Corneal histopathology and in vivo confocal microscopy after minimally invasive direct corneal neurotization were reviewed in one patient who underwent simultaneous penetrating keratoplasty.
Five consecutive cases in 4 patients were included, with a mean follow up of 15.8 months (range: 11–23 months). Average denervation time was 17.8 months (range: 6–24 months). Baseline corneal conditions were Mackie stage 1 (20%), Mackie stage 2 (40%), and Mackie stage 3 (40%). All patients demonstrated improvements in corneal sensibility and appearance postoperatively. All patients demonstrated stable or improved visual acuity. No patients developed persistent epithelial defects postoperatively, and all achieved return of tactile skin sensation in the donor nerve sensory distribution. In vivo confocal microscopy after minimally invasive direct corneal neurotization and simultaneous penetrating keratoplasty demonstrated regeneration of corneal nerves. Complications included an asymptomatic small bony excrescence lateral to the supraorbital notch in one patient and cataract progression in the patient who underwent penetrating keratoplasty.
Minimally invasive direct corneal neurotization is a safe and effective treatment of neurotrophic keratopathy.