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J Cataract Refract Surg. 1999 Mar;25(3):432-40.

Converting to topical anesthesia in cataract surgery.

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Department of Ophthalmology, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Finland.



To evaluate the complications and difficulties encountered by surgeons converting from paraocular to topical anesthesia in cataract surgery and to evaluate patient pain and satisfaction with each procedure.


Department of Ophthalmology, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki, Finland.


Three hundred eyes of 245 consecutive patients were prospectively assigned by permuted block-restricted randomization to receive topical (bupivacaine 0.75%) (Group 1; n = 136) or paraocular (Group 2; n = 163) anesthesia. The intraoperative conditions were judged by the surgeon. A numerical scale (0 to 10) was used to assess the degree of pain during administration of anesthesia, during surgery, and 1 and 24 hours postoperatively. Outcome measures were the number of complications and adverse events registered perioperatively and 4 months postoperatively as well as Snellen visual acuity and surgically induced astigmatism (SIA) measured 1 week and 4 months after surgery.


The success of posterior chamber intraocular lens (IOL) implantation through a self-sealing clear corneal incision was very high (99.3% and 96.9% in Groups 1 and 2, respectively). One case (0.7%) in the topical group required vitrectomy and implantation of an anterior chamber IOL. Anesthesia-related difficulties were reported in about 40% of patients in Group 1 and 4% in Group 2 (P < .001). Supplemental paraocular anesthesia was required in 4 cases (2.9%) in the topical group. Sedative/analgesic medication given perioperatively was required significantly more often in Group 1 (13.2%) than in Group 2 (2.4%) (P < .01). Significantly more pain during surgery (P < .001) and 1 hour after surgery (P < .001) was reported in the topical group. In Group 1 69.9% and in Group 2 93.3% reported no pain during surgery (P < .001). Chemosis (1.8%), subconjunctival hemorrhage (1.2%), and periorbital hematoma (1.2%) were seen only in the paraocular group. Perioperatively, no severe complications occurred in Group 1 and the number of adverse events was less than in Group 2. Postoperatively, 2 cases of endophthalmitis developed in the topical group and none in the paraocular group. There was no between-group difference in outcome measures; a visual acuity of 20/40 or better was found in 87.8% of eyes in Group 1 and 84.9% in Group 2 4 months postoperatively, and the percentages of eyes with SIAs within 1.0 diopter of preoperative values were similar (78.6% and 73.3%, respectively). Patient preference for topical anesthesia appeared to be higher than for paraocular anesthesia.


Paraocular anesthesia gave better analgesia than topical, but topical anesthesia provided acceptable analgesia during surgery and showed that intraocular procedures can be performed without akinesia. The surgeon converting to topical anesthesia may expect slight difficulty in 40% of cases and more severe difficulty in 7%. Surgically related complications were similar with both methods.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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