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Eye (Lond). 2012 Jan;26(1):140-3. doi: 10.1038/eye.2011.289. Epub 2011 Nov 18.

The incidence and distribution of iatrogenic retinal tears in 20-gauge and 23-gauge vitrectomy.

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Department of Ophthalmology, St Mary's Hospital, Newport, Isle of Wight, UK.



The development of 23-gauge vitrectomy surgery has many benefits including a reduction in surgical time and faster postoperative rehabilitation; however, some have suggested that the complication rate is higher. To assess this we compared the incidence and distribution of iatrogenic retinal tears in 20- and 23-gauge surgery.


Fifty consecutive 23-gauge and 50 consecutive 20-gauge vitrectomy cases were selected; eyes with a history of previous vitreoretinal surgery were excluded. All surgery was performed by two surgeons (JL and RN). Entry-site breaks (ESB) were defined as any new vitreoretinal abnormality occurring within 1 clock hour of an entry site for which treatment with cryotherapy was deemed necessary. Data were collected by retrospective case note review. Statistical analysis was carried out using Fisher's exact and χ(2)-tests.


ESB occurred in 24% (12/50) of cases in the 20-gauge group compared with 8% (4/50) in the 23-gauge group (P = 0.03); 88% (14/16) occurred superiorly on the same side as the surgeons' dominant hand. Iatrogenic breaks recorded elsewhere indicated an increased incidence in the 20-gauge group (9/50 compared with 6/50 in 23-gauge) but this did not achieve significance; the most common position was at 6 o'clock.


23-Gauge vitrectomy is associated with significantly fewer ESB when compared with conventional 20-gauge vitrectomy. The incidence of other iatrogenic breaks did not appear to be significantly different between the two groups.

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