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Displacement of nuclear fragments into the vitreous complicating phacoemulsification surgery in the UK: clinical features, outcomes and management
  1. H von Lany1,2,3,4,5,
  2. S Mahmood1,2,3,4,5,
  3. C R H James1,2,3,4,5,
  4. M D Cole1,2,3,4,5,
  5. S J Charles1,2,3,4,5,
  6. B Foot1,2,3,4,5,
  7. P Gouws1,2,3,4,5,
  8. S Shaw1,2,3,4,5
  1. 1
    Department of Ophthalmology, Torbay Hospital, Torquay, UK
  2. 2
    Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, Manchester, UK
  3. 3
    British Ophthalmological Surveillance Unit, The Royal College of Ophthalmologists, London, UK
  4. 4
    Conquest Hospital, St Leonard’s-on-Sea, UK
  5. 5
    School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Plymouth, UK
  1. Mrs H von Lany, Department of Ophthalmology, Torbay Hospital, Torquay TQ2 7AA, UK; vonlanyhirut10{at}


Aims: To study the clinical features, management and outcomes of displacement of nuclear fragments into the vitreous (DNFV) complicating phacoemulsification in the UK.

Methods: Cases were collected prospectively between March 2003 and March 2004 inclusive by active surveillance through the British Ophthalmological Surveillance Unit. Details were obtained using incidence questionnaires and follow-up questionnaires after 6 months. The data used in this paper were obtained from the follow-up questionnaires.

Results: 610 cases were confirmed during the reporting period, for which 387 follow-up questionnaires were received. In 67% of cases, a best-corrected visual acuity of 6/12 or better was reported at final follow-up. The most common immediate sequelae of DNFV were intraocular inflammation (85%), corneal oedema (55%) and an intraocular pressure >30 mm Hg (34%). Pars plana vitreolensectomy was used in 97% of cases, and fragmatome ultrasound lensectomy was used in over half of these procedures. The median time from cataract surgery to pars plana vitrectomy for the removal of DNFV was 3 days, and most patients (68%) had vitrectomy within 1 week of the first procedure. An intraocular lens had been inserted at the time of the complicated cataract surgery (defined as a “primary IOL”) in 40% of cases, and over three-quarters of these primary IOLs were subsequently removed (with or without a replacement IOL). Only 67% of eyes that had a primary IOL inserted after DNFV were pseudophakic at final follow-up, in contrast with 79% of eyes that were left aphakic after DNFV (p = 0.008). A best-corrected visual acuity of 6/60 or worse was reported in 14% of cases at final follow-up and was most commonly associated with persistent uveitis, corneal oedema, cystoid macular oedema, optic atrophy or retinal detachment.

Conclusions: DNFV complicating cataract surgery was followed by a secondary procedure in 97% of cases. About three-quarters (77%) of “primary IOLs” inserted at the time of DNFV were subsequently removed or replaced, and eyes that had received a primary IOL had significantly less chance of being pseudophakic at final follow-up than eyes that had been left primarily aphakic at the time of the complicated cataract surgery. The delay before secondary intervention was shorter, fragmatome ultrasound lensectomy use was higher, and the retinal detachment rate was lower than in previous studies. Affected eyes still had a worse outcome in terms of visual acuity compared with eyes after uncomplicated cataract surgery.

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