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Building a safer trabeculectomy
  1. S Lin
  1. Correspondence to: S Lin Department of Ophthalmology, University of California, San Francisco, 10 Koret Way, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA; lins{at}

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A new approach to preventing hypotony and shallow/flat anterior chamber

In this issue of the BJO (p 44), Stalmans et al describe their clinical results of a new technique for trabeculectomy, originally described by Wells et al.1 In this modification of the traditional trabeculectomy procedure, there are three main alterations: (1) adjustable/removable sutures are placed along each lateral side of the trabeculectomy flap for intraoperative and postoperative adjustment; (2) an anterior chamber maintainer is placed to titrate the leakage from the trabeculectomy and to wash out inflammatory debris from the anterior chamber; and (3) a standardised excision is created using the Khaw punch instrument of 0.5 mm. The overall purported advantage of these changes is reduced complications related to early postoperative overfiltration.

The modern Cairns/Watson technique for trabeculectomy2,3 was developed, in part, to avoid the overfiltration associated with full thickness sclerostomies. Clinical studies have demonstrated lower rates of hypotony and flat chamber with the guarded filtration approach.4 Subsequent progress with the use of antimetabolites, such as mitomycin C (MMC) and 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), have extended the efficacy of trabeculectomy procedures.5,6 However, these agents have also led to an increased incidence of some complications, including chronic hypotony and bleb leakage.5–8

Despite the improvements compared with full thickness filters, trabeculectomy remains a surgery associated with relatively high rates of complications (including hypotony and shallow/flat chamber), a substantial postoperative recovery period, and significant long term failure rates.5–8 These factors have fuelled the search for safer and more effective outflow procedures. In particular, newer surgeries have been developed to avoid the hypotony and need for bleb formation. …

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  • Competing interest statement: The author has no competing interests related to any of the devices or drugs discussed in this publication.

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