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Editor,—We read with interest the study that compared intraoperative mitomycin C with β irradiation in primary pterygium surgery. The authors rightly commented that long term complications of β irradiation, such as scleral necrosis, may arise more than 10 years after the irradiation.Longer follow ups are necessary to reveal such complications.
We performed primary pterygium excision with intraoperative β irradiation in one eye of six patients between 1988 and 1990. A dose of 1000 rad of β irradiation was applied to the scleral bed intraoperatively and 1 week later. The patients were recently reviewed in our clinic for recurrence and complications. We also performed ultrasound biomicroscopic examination (UBM) for both eyes in each patient, looking for corneal and scleral thinning. Corneal thickness was arbitrarily measured 0.5 mm anterior to the scleral spur at the 12, 3, 6, and 9 o'clock positions of each eye, while the scleral thickness was measured 2 mm posterior to the scleral spur at the same positions.
Mean follow up was 138.0 months. Mean age at time of surgery was 37.5 years (range 32–45 years). All six eyes were right eyes with nasal pterygia in male patients. No recurrence was found, using the same definition. There was neither significant deterioration in visual acuity nor increase in intraocular pressure in any eye. There were no signs of inflammation.
There were no significant differences in the scleral and corneal thickness between the treated nasal position of the operated eye (mean scleral 0.617 (SD 0.112) mm; mean corneal 0.656 (0.076) mm) and the control nasal position of the fellow eye (mean scleral 0.611 (0.030) mm; mean corneal 0.645 (0.044) mm).
Furthermore, there were no significant differences in the mean scleral and corneal thickness between the operated eye (scleral 0.590 (0.077) mm; corneal 0.635 (0.067) mm) and the fellow eye (scleral 0.590 (0.059) mm; corneal 0.624 (0.054) mm). The mean scleral and corneal thicknesses were calculated by averaging the scleral or corneal thickness at the four measured positions in each eye.
It appears that β irradiation is safe, even in the long term. We believe these additional data could supplement the findings by Amano et al.
Financial and proprietary interest: Nil.
Financial support: Nil
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