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Small incision lenticule extraction (SMILE) and femtosecond laser LASIK: comparison of corneal wound healing and inflammation
  1. Zixian Dong1,
  2. Xingtao Zhou1,
  3. Jihong Wu1,
  4. Zhehuan Zhang1,
  5. Tao Li1,
  6. Zimei Zhou2,
  7. Shenghai Zhang1,
  8. Gang Li1
  1. 1Institute of Ophthalmology, Eye and ENT Hospital, Fudan University, Shanghai, PR China
  2. 2Department of Ophthalmology, Bronx Lebanon Hospital Center, Bronx, New York, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Xingtao Zhou, Eye and ENT Hospital, Fudan University, 83 Fenyang Road, Shanghai 200031, PR China; xingtaozhou{at}


Aim To evaluate and compare early corneal wound healing and inflammatory responses after small incision lenticule extraction (SMILE) versus femtosecond laser laser in situ keratomileusis (LASIK).

Methods Thirty-six eyes of 36 rabbits underwent SMILE, while another 36 eyes of 36 rabbits were treated with femtosecond laser LASIK. All the eyes were subjected to the same refractive correction of −6.00 DS/−1.00 DC. Twelve eyes that had no surgery were included for control. After euthanisation, corneal tissue sections were evaluated with terminal deoxyribonucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP-digoxigenin nick-end labelling (TUNEL) assay to detect apoptosis at postoperative 4 and 24 h, immunocytochemistry for Ki67 to detect keratocyte proliferation at postoperative day 3, week 1 and month 1, and immunocytochemistry for CD11b to detect inflammation at postoperative day 1, day 3 and week 1, respectively.

Results No adverse effects were noted after SMILE or LASIK. Corneal healing postoperatively was uneventful in all cases. There were significantly fewer TUNEL-positive corneal stromal cells after the SMILE procedure at 4 and 24 h postoperatively (p<0.01) compared with the LASIK procedure. In addition, immunocytochemistry showed significantly fewer Ki67-positive cells in the SMILE group than those in the femtosecond laser LASIK group at day 3 and week 1 postoperatively (p<0.05), but there was little expression of Ki67 at month 1 postoperatively in both groups. The CD11b-positive cells were significantly fewer in the SMILE group at day 1, day 3 and week 1 postoperatively (p<0.01).

Conclusions SMILE induces less keratocyte apoptosis, proliferation and inflammation compared with femtosecond laser LASIK.

  • Cornea
  • Wound Healing
  • Inflammation

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