Aims: To evaluate the histology and function of Descemet's membrane transplanted with intact endothelium. Methods: Japanese white rabbits and human eyebank eyes were used as donors and recipients of Descemet's membrane transplantation. Donor endothelium was hydrodissected by injecting indocyanine green from a limbal incision, and then processed as a corneal scleral button. A 6 mm diameter donor sheet was trephined, and folded in half using a 6 mm diameter polymer as a carrier. Recipient endothelium was also hydrodissected from the limbus using trypan blue to stain the Descemet's membrane. Continuous curvilinear descemetorhexis (CCD) was performed to remove a circular section of the Descemet's membrane using a 27 gauge cystotome. Donor tissue was inserted into the anterior chamber through a 5 mm limbal incision and opposed to the host stroma. Polymers were removed following transplantation. Similar surgical procedures were performed in both rabbits and eyebank eyes. Haematoxylin eosin stains were performed after 28 days in rabbits, and eyebank eyes were fixed immediately following surgery for endothelial cell counts. Results: Rabbit control eyes demonstrated stromal oedema caused by loss of Descemet's membrane, whereas transplanted eyes had clear corneas. The mean (standard deviation) pachymetry of operated eyes was 376.6 (SD 32.5) μm compared with 389.6 (SD 25.1) μm in the unoperated eye. Mean endothelial density immediately following surgery in eyebank eyes was 2749 (SD 288) cells/mm2. Conclusions: Transplantation of Descemet's membrane by CCD produces a functional graft with an optically clear interface similar to control cornea.
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