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Amniotic membrane transplantation for the management of corneal epithelial defects: an in vivo confocal microscopic study
  1. M Nubile1,
  2. H S Dua2,
  3. T Evb-M Lanzini1,
  4. P Carpineto1,
  5. M Ciancaglini1,
  6. L Toto1,
  7. L Mastropasqua1
  1. 1
    Department of Medicine and Ageing Science, Ophthalmology Clinic, University of Chieti-Pescara, Italy
  2. 2
    Division of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
  1. M Nubile, Via Valleparo, 8, 6610 Torrevecchia T. (Chieti), Italy; m.nubile{at}


Purpose: To evaluate amniotic membrane (AM) tissue morphology and corneal epithelial healing in human eyes after amniotic membrane transplantation (AMT), using laser scanning in vivo confocal microscopy (IVCM).

Patients and methods: Twenty eyes of 20 patients, treated with single layer epithelial side up AMT for chemical burns in the acute stage (n = 8) and persistent corneal epithelial defect (n = 12) were studied by serial IVCM post-AMT until complete re-epithelisation. Changes in morphology of transplanted amniotic tissue and healing corneal epithelium were noted. AM and corneal epithelial cell density was calculated using image-analysis software.

Results: IVCM enabled visualisation of transplanted AM and of regenerating epithelial cells under the AM. The mean AM epithelial cell density, 1 day after transplant, was 4613 (SD 380) cells/mm2. The average AM epithelial thickness was 35 (4) μm, while the AM stromal thickness was 116 (31) μm. The amniotic stroma appeared to be composed of a superficial dense fibrous layer and a deeper loose reticular network of fibres. Amniotic epithelium was lost within 15 days of transplant, and complete re-epithelisation of the corneal surface was achieved between 1 and 4 weeks.

Conclusions: Laser scanning IVCM is a useful method for evaluating AM tissue morphology, degradation and corneal epithelial healing after AMT for different clinical indications. When the amniotic membrane acts as a patch, that is epithelial cells migrate under rather than over the membrane, the membrane disintegrates and is lost.

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  • Competing interests: None.

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