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Ophthalmology. 2016 Jul;123(7):1421-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2016.03.011. Epub 2016 Apr 20.

Descemet Stripping Endothelial Keratoplasty: Ten-Year Endothelial Cell Loss Compared with Penetrating Keratoplasty.

Author information

Cornea Research Foundation of America, Indianapolis, Indiana. Electronic address:
Jaeb Center for Health Research, Tampa, Florida.
Price Vision Group, Indianapolis, Indiana.
Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals Eye Institute, Cleveland, Ohio.



To assess endothelial cell density (ECD) and model 10-year cell loss after Descemet stripping endothelial keratoplasty (DSEK), and to compare with results after penetrating keratoplasty (PK) performed for the same indications in the Cornea Donor Study (CDS).


Retrospective, longitudinal study.


Five hundred ninety DSEK recipients, 21 to 96 years of age, treated for Fuchs' dystrophy (n = 498; 84%), pseudophakic or aphakic corneal edema (n = 89; 15%), or other endothelial dysfunction (n = 3; <1%).


Review of 1005 consecutive primary DSEK procedures by 6 surgeons identified 752 grafts (75%) in 590 recipients with ECD measurements at 1 or more postoperative examinations between 6 months and 10 years. Four statistical models applied previously to the CDS PK data were considered. The preferred model (Bayesian Markov chain Monte Carlo) accounted for missing data, selective dropout from graft failure, correlations between fellow eyes, and correlations between longitudinal repeated measures.


Central corneal ECD.


The median donor corneal ECD (25th-75th percentiles) was 3005 cells/mm(2) (2852-3203 cells/mm(2)) at baseline, 2077 cells/mm(2) (1660-2411 cells/mm(2)) at 6 months, and 926 cells/mm(2) (617-1433 cells/mm(2)), with a range from 408 to 2538 cells/mm(2) at 10 years. After median cell loss of 32% in the perioperative period, ECD declined at a linear rate of approximately 110 cells/mm(2) per year between 6 months and 10 years after DSEK. At 10 years, the median cell loss was 71% (53%-80%) relative to the baseline donor ECD, comparable with the 76% (70%-82%) median cell loss after PK by 68 surgeons in the CDS. The 10-year ECD correlated with the 6-month postoperative ECD (r = 0.56; P < 0.001), but not with the baseline donor ECD (r = -0.04; P = 0.78). Selective dropout from graft failure did not affect the cell loss model significantly.


The linear decline in ECD after DSEK was consistent with shorter-term endothelial keratoplasty studies and was distinct from the biexponential cell loss trend characteristic of PK. By 10 years, cell loss was comparable in surviving clear grafts for both DSEK and PK.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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