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Cornea. 2011 Jun;30(6):624-8. doi: 10.1097/ICO.0b013e3182041755.

Incidence, occurrence rate, and characteristics of suture-related corneal infections after penetrating keratoplasty.

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Cole Eye Institute, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH, USA.



To report the incidence, occurrence rate, and characteristics of suture-related infections after penetrating keratoplasty (PK).


Patients who underwent PK at our institution between January 1, 2002, and July 1, 2006, were cross-referenced with patients diagnosed with corneal infections between January 1, 2002, and July 1, 2007. All patient charts were reviewed retrospectively for occurrence of suture-related infections, duration of follow-up, and clinical characteristics.


Of the 487 PKs performed in 412 patients, 22 eyes of 22 patients developed postoperative corneal infections. Of these, 5 eyes were identified as having suture-related graft infections, yielding an occurrence rate of 1.0%. The average follow-up was 3.46 years per PK, yielding an incidence of 2.96 infections per 1000 PK-years. The mean interval from surgery to infection was 8 months (range: 3-23 months). All culprit sutures were in the interpalpebral zone. No patients were using topical antibiotics at the time of infection, and all patients were using topical corticosteroid drops. Cultured organisms included Staphylococcus aureus (3 cases), coagulase-negative Staphylcoccus (1 case), and S. viridans (1 case). In 2 patients with isolated corneal involvement, topical moxifloxacin was initiated, and the patients responded favorably. In 3 patients with corneal infection and an associated hypopyon or endophthalmitis, vitreous biopsy, intravitreal injections of antibiotics, and fortified topical antibiotics were used. One patient required a repeat PK as a result of the infection. Two eyes eventually became phthisical.


The rate of suture-related infections after PK may be lower than previously reported. In our patients, suture-related infections all occurred within the first 2 years after surgery, and some of them resulted in significant morbidity, underscoring the importance of patient identification of symptoms and early clinical recognition.

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