Epithelial ingrowth following endothelial keratoplasty

Ritika R. Dalal, Irving Raber, Steven P. Dunn, Robert Weisenthal, Joel Sugar, Sadeer Hannush, Randy Epstein, Robert S. Feder*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Purpose: To present a large case series of epithelial ingrowth or implantation following endothelial keratoplasty (EK) with the purpose of identifying the common causes as well as the various clinical presentations. We aim to determine the typical clinical course and the most effective treatment for this rare but serious complication. Methods: This is a retrospective study of 13 patients who developed epithelial ingrowth or implantation post-EK. Slit lamp photographs were independently examined along with other diagnostic imaging and histopathology to confirm the diagnosis. Patient medical records including operative reports were reviewed to determine the number of surgeries that occurred before EK and details of surgical technique, for example, whether venting incisions were performed. Records from follow-up visits were reviewed to determine the natural progression and management of these cases. The literature was reviewed and a meta-analysis was performed. Results: The patients were divided into 5 groups according to the type of epithelial presentation. Eight patients had involvement within the interface away from the visual axis. One patient had ingrowth in the interface within the visual axis, 2 had retrocorneal involvement, and 1 had anterior chamber involvement. One had both retrocorneal and anterior chamber involvement. Venting incisions were performed in 8 patients, but only 1 had ingrowth related to the venting incision. Nine patients were observed without evidence of significant progression. Four patients had surgical treatment to remove the epithelium. Conclusions: Epithelial ingrowth or implantation occurs most commonly within the interface away from the visual axis and typically does not progress. The presentation of a homogeneous gray-white interface opacity is characteristic. Ingrowth can result from venting incisions, but rarely does. Other causes are eccentric trephination or loose donor or host epithelium being dragged into the eye at the time of surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)465-470
Number of pages6
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 4 2016


  • DSAEK complications
  • Endothelial keratoplasty
  • Epithelial implantation
  • Epithelial ingrowth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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