Primary graft failure associated with epithelial downgrowth: A case report

Department of Ophthalmology, The University of California, San Francisco, California, USA.
BMC Ophthalmology (Impact Factor: 1.02). 02/2005; 5(1):11. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2415-5-11
Source: PubMed


Epithelial downgrowth is a rare complication of ocular surgery. While the features of epithelial downgrowth following corneal transplantation are well described, its association with primary graft failure has only been reported once previously. We report a case of primary corneal graft failure (PGF) associated with retrocorneal epithelial cell ingrowth.
A 59 year-old male underwent an uncomplicated penetrating keratoplasty for Fuchs' corneal dystrophy. The patient developed PGF, and a second transplant was performed 5 weeks after the initial surgery. The initial host corneal button and the failed corneal graft were examined with light microscopy. Histopathologic examination of the excised corneal button demonstrated multilaminar epithelial cells on the posterior corneal surface and absence of endothelial cells. DNA extraction and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for herpes simplex virus (HSV) DNA was performed on the failed corneal graft. Polymerase chain reaction performed on the failed corneal graft was negative for HSV DNA, which has been implicated in selected cases of PGF. Three years following repeat penetrating keratoplasty, there was no evidence of recurrent epithelial ingrowth.
This is only the second report of PGF associated with epithelialization of the posterior corneal button, which most likely developed subsequent to, instead of causing, the diffuse endothelial cell loss and primary graft failure.

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Available from: Anthony J Aldave, Sep 23, 2015
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    ABSTRACT: To report the clinical and histopathologic findings of 2 patients who developed epithelial downgrowth after Descemet stripping automated endothelial keratoplasty (DSAEK). A 64-year-old woman (case 1) underwent DSAEK for corneal edema secondary to Fuchs endothelial dystrophy in left eye. However, the graft failed to attach, and a repeat DSAEK was performed 3 weeks later. After 4 months, the patient developed herpes simplex virus keratitis that resulted in anterior stromal scarring. A penetrating keratoplasty was performed 15 months after the initial DSAEK. Our second patient (case 2) was an 87-year-old female who underwent DSAEK for corneal edema secondary to Fuchs endothelial dystrophy in left eye. Six months later, she had an episode of graft rejection and developed secondary glaucoma. At 14 months postoperatively, a retrocorneal membrane was seen involving the temporal half of the endothelial surface of the graft. The retrocorneal membrane extended from the inferior thickened edge of the endothelial keratoplasty graft to the iris stromal surface. An Ahmed shunt implantation followed by repeat DSAEK were then performed. The excised corneal buttons were examined. Histopathologic evaluation showed multilayered epithelium on the interface and attenuated endothelium in the endothelial graft in case 1. The host cornea showed diffuse stromal scarring. Case 2 showed multilayered epithelium with early cyst formation at the edge of the graft. The epithelium extended to involve the endothelial surface without involvement of interface surface. Significant scar formation was observed between the edge of the endothelial keratoplasty graft and thickened host Descemet membrane. Some pigmented cells were present within the epithelial downgrowth. The epithelium stained positively with cytokeratin A1/A3 in both cases. Although rare, epithelial downgrowth can occur after DSAEK and can be associated with graft failure. Early recognition and surgical treatment of epithelial downgrowth is crucial in treating the complications of corneal decompensation and glaucoma.
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