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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2011 Jun 22;52(7):4439-46. doi: 10.1167/iovs.10-6732.

The dynamic healing process of idiopathic macular holes after surgical repair: a spectral-domain optical coherence tomography study.

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Eye Clinic, Department of Clinical Science Luigi Sacco, Sacco Hospital, University of Milan, Milan, Italy.



To analyze progressive changes of the outer retina after vitrectomy for macular hole (MH) repair.


Nineteen consecutive patients underwent vitrectomy for idiopathic MH. Spectral domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) examinations were performed pre- and postoperatively during follow-up visits at 1, 3, 6, 9, and 12 months. Active eye-tracking technology ensured that the same scanning location was identified each time.


Ten eyes showed a normal external limiting membrane (ELM) at 1 month after surgery and 15 eyes at 3 months. The ELM was already continuous in 79% of the eyes with persistent outer foveal defects during follow-up. No eyes revealed a continuous inner segment/outer segment (IS/OS) line at 1 month, only one eye at 3 months, and 10 eyes at 12 months. No eyes had a disrupted ELM with an intact IS/OS line. Foveal cysts were visible in three eyes at 1 month and in eight eyes during follow-up. The cystic space gradually filled, resulting in a continuous IS/OS line in five of these eyes. Recovery of ELM, IS/OS, and outer nuclear layer (ONL) determined most of visual acuity improvement. The ONL appeared normal in the 10 eyes with an intact IS/OS line at last follow-up. By contrast, it was disrupted in 7 of 9 eyes with a final persistent outer foveal defect.


The ELM is the first structure to recover after MH closure. Foveal cysts may develop during follow-up, and in the presence of an intact ONL, they may gradually fill with complete recovery of the IS/OS junction.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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