Purpose: To evaluate the long-term outcome of cultivated oral mucosal epithelial transplantation (COMET) in treatment of eyes with total limbal stem cell deficiency. Design: Noncomparative, retrospective, interventional case series. Participants: Forty eyes in 36 patients with total limbal stem cell deficiency (Stevens-Johnson syndrome in 12 eyes, chemical or thermal burns in 11 eyes, ocular cicatricial pemphigoid [OCP] in 9 eyes, pseudo-OCP in 7 eyes, and gelatinous drop-like dystrophy in 1 eye) were treated at the Department of Ophthalmology, Tokyo Dental College, Chiba, Japan. Intervention: Cultivated autologous oral mucosal epithelial sheets were transplanted onto the ocular surface in eyes with total limbal stem cell deficiency. Main Outcome Measures: Reconstruction of a stable ocular surface with a clear appearance and no epithelial defects, reduction in fibrovascular tissue invasion of corneal surface, a functional fornix, change in visual acuity, and postoperative complications. Results: The mean follow-up period was 25.5 months (range, 654.9 months). Kaplan-Meier analysis of a corneal surface stability revealed an early decline in transplanted oral mucosal epithelial stability over the first 6 months, remaining comparatively stable thereafter (1 year, 64.8%; 2 years, 59.0%; and 3 years, 53.1%). Postoperative persistent epithelial failure developed within the first 3 months in 9 eyes. Early epithelial failure was associated closely with preoperative corneal defects. Gradual fibrovascular tissue invasion of the corneal surface was observed in 8 eyes and was marked in cases of OCP. Survival of a functional fornix decreased progressively until approximately 6 months. Postoperative visual acuity seemed to be related to the presence of corneal opacity. Complications included stromal melting or perforation in 8 eyes, infectious keratitis in 2 eyes, glaucoma in 8 eyes, and recurrence of herpetic keratitis in 1 eye. Corneal melting or perforation and infectious keratitis were associated closely with persistent epithelial defects after COMET. Conclusions: The transplantation of cultivated oral mucosal epithelial sheets offers a viable and safe alternative in the reconstruction of a stable ocular surface. Epithelialization of the corneal surface is very important not only in obtaining a satisfactory long-term outcome, but also in achieving a lower incidence of complications. Financial Disclosure(s): The author(s) have no proprietary or commercial interest in any materials discussed in this article.
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