Aim: To investigate characteristics of initial immunological graft rejection after Descemet stripping with endothelial keratoplasty (DSEK).
Methods: The incidence, symptoms and clinical characteristics of initial immunological graft rejection episodes were analysed retrospectively in 598 eyes treated with primary DSEK at a single tertiary referral centre.
Results: Graft rejection episodes occurred in 54 eyes of 48 patients. Thirty-five per cent of the eyes were asymptomatic and were diagnosed during routine examination. Signs of immunological rejection at the initial diagnosis included keratic precipitates (69%), diffuse corneal oedema (11%) or both (20%); no endothelial rejection lines were observed. In contrast to standard full-thickness grafts, there were no epithelial immunological reactions because the epithelium and anterior stroma are not transplanted in DSEK. Most grafts cleared; four (7%) progressed to graft failure and were successfully regrafted with DSEK.
Conclusions: Immunological graft rejection is an important postoperative complication after DSEK. The range of clinical findings indicative of corneal graft rejection differs in some respects between DSEK and standard penetrating keratoplasty.
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Competing interests: FWP receives travel grants from Moria (Antony, France) and is a consultant for Allergan (Irvine, California).
Ethics approval: Ethics approval was provided by IRB Company, Buena Park, California.
Patient consent: Obtained.