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Minor salivary gland transplantation for severe dry eye disease due to cicatrising conjunctivitis: multicentre long-term outcomes of a modified technique


Aim To report the clinical outcomes of autologous minor salivary gland transplantation (MSGT) for the treatment of severe dry eye disease caused by cicatrising conjunctivitis.

Methods This was a retrospective case series of patients undergoing MSGT at four different centres from 2016 to 2018. The technical modifications included en bloc harvesting of a 20 mm×15 mm mucosa–gland–muscle complex and fixation of the glands to the superior bulbar surface anchored to the superior rectus muscle. The primary outcome measure was improvement in best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA). Secondary outcome measures were change in Schirmer test scores and grades of conjunctival and corneal fluorescein staining, grades of corneal neovascularisation, opacification and keratinisation.

Results 21 eyes of 19 patients underwent MSGT, with a median follow-up duration of 3 years. The median BCVA improved from a baseline value of 20/500 to 20/125 at 1 year (p=0.0004) and 20/80 at 3 years (p=0.0002) after surgery. The proportion of cases with BCVA ≥20/200 improved from 38% at baseline to 67% at 1 year (p=0.0294), 78% at 2 years (p=0.0227) and 93% at 3 years (p=0.0015) after surgery. There was a significant improvement (p<0.0036) in Schirmer scores, conjunctival and corneal staining scores as well as grades of corneal neovascularisation and opacification after surgery. There were no serious sight-threatening complications in the transplanted eyes or at the donor site.

Conclusions Long-term improvement in the visual acuity, ocular surface environment, and keratopathy was noted after MSGT performed in severely dry eyes using a modified technique.

  • Ocular surface
  • Cornea
  • Tears

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