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Simple limbal epithelial transplantation (SLET): a novel surgical technique for the treatment of unilateral limbal stem cell deficiency

Abstract

This study describes a novel surgical technique of limbal transplantation, which combines the benefits of existing techniques while avoiding their difficulties. Six patients with unilateral and total limbal stem cell deficiency following ocular surface burns underwent a single-stage procedure. A 2×2 mm strip of donor limbal tissue was obtained from the healthy eye and divided into eight to ten small pieces. After surgical preparation of the recipient ocular surface, these tiny limbal transplants were distributed evenly over an amniotic membrane placed on the cornea. After surgery, a completely epithelialised, avascular and stable corneal surface was seen in all recipient eyes by 6 weeks, and this was maintained at a mean±SD follow-up of 9.2±1.9 months. Visual acuity improved from worse than 20/200 in all recipient eyes before surgery to 20/60 or better in four (66.6%) eyes, while none of the donor eyes developed any complications. This technique requires less donor tissue than previously used for conventional autografting and does not need a specialist laboratory for cell expansion. Although long-term results are awaited, this simple limbal epithelial transplantation promises to be an easy and effective technique for treating unilateral limbal stem cell deficiency following ocular burns.

  • Limbal stem cell deficiency
  • autologous
  • cultivated limbal epithelial transplantation
  • ocular surface burns
  • iris
  • sclera and episclera
  • ocular surface
  • cornea
  • immunology
  • imaging
  • stem cells

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