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Editor,—We wish to point out some inaccuracies portrayed by the media on osteo-odonto-keratoprosthesis (OOKP) surgery offered at our hospital. In 1996, we performed our first OOKP operation that was televised as a BBC “Tomorrow’s World” programme. In the programme, the operation was described as “new”. This was not true as the technique of OOKP was invented by the late Benedetto Strampelli over 30 years ago.1 2 A number of surgeons in Britain adopted his technique but their results were disappointing and the technique was abandoned.3 4
Professor Giancarlo Falcinelli of San Camillo Hospital, Rome, made stepwise improvements on the original technique in the past 20 years, and has been obtaining excellent visual and retention results.5-7 One of us (CL) was put in touch with the San Camillo team by Mr Michael Roper-Hall in 1993 and learnt the technique over the course of the ensuing 3 years. Sergio Pagliarini and Christopher Liu independently surveyed Falcinelli’s results in 1994.8
The “newness” of the operation only related to the introduction of Falcinelli’s OOKP technique into Britain for the first time.
We took the opportunity to offer the launch of the Falcinelli technique in Britain to the BBC, when Professor Falcinelli and his team were invited to assist with the first few operations. In the event, Professor Falcinelli was keen to do most of the surgery himself but the television programme had not portrayed him as being the lead surgeon.
Colleagues abroad informed us recently that abridged versions of the programme claimed that Brighton was the only place in the world where OOKP surgery is offered. This is not true. There are many types and techniques of artificial corneas or keratoprostheses (KPro).9 An international KPro study group exists and has met every 3 years for exchange of ideas and experience.10
We can be grateful to the media for increasing the awareness of KPro surgery, but we must make it clear that there have been unfortunate inaccuracies as detailed above.