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Use of split-thickness dermal grafts to repair corneal and scleral defects--a study of 10 patients.
  1. J A Mauriello, Jr and
  2. K Pokorny
  1. Department of Ophthalmology, UMD NJ, New Jersey Medical School, Newark 07107.


    The use of split-thickness dermal grafts for successful repair of corneal and scleral defects is reported in 10 patients (11 eyes) who had non-infectious, impending, or overt ocular perforation. In all patients, traditional methods of reconstruction were deemed inappropriate or had already failed. Corneo-scleral defects occurred after various operations: pterygium excision, retinal detachment repair, insertion of a keratoprosthesis (Cardona implant) into an opaque, vascularised cornea, and penetrating keratoplasty. Other causes of corneoscleral defects were scleromalacia perforans, idiopathic systemic vasculitis, alkali burn, ocular cicatricial pemphigoid, and band keratopathy with recurrent erosion following intraocular metallic foreign body. We propose the use of split-thickness grafts: (1) when adjacent conjunctiva is inadequate to cover a corneoscleral defect owing to its large size or great depth or to conjunctival scarring from previous operations, injury, or ocular cicatricial pemphigoid; or (2) as an alternative to autogenous grafts such as conjunctiva, cartilage, fascia lata, tibial periosteum, or mucous membrane as well as to homologous scleral and lamellar grafts. Dermal grafts are advantageous in that they are autogenous, non-antigenic, survive on avascular surfaces, and self-epithelialise and, thus, need not be covered by conjunctiva. Furthermore, they are pliable, have excellent tensile strength, provide ample tectile support, and are abundantly available. Dermal grafts are harvested from the dermal bed of the thigh after an epidermal flap is hinged at one end.

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