One-year outcome after Descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty (DMEK) comparing sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) 20% versus 100% air for anterior chamber tamponade

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To investigate 1-year clinical outcome and complication rates following Descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty (DMEK) with sulfur hexafluoride 20% (SF620%) anterior chamber tamponade compared with conventionally used 100% air for primary graft attachment during DMEK surgery.


Records of 1112 consecutive DMEKs were reviewed retrospectively and grouped by anterior chamber tamponade used during DMEK surgery (SF620% vs 100% air). Outcome measures included intraocular pressure (IOP), best spectacle-corrected visual acuity (BSCVA), endothelial cell density (ECD) and central corneal thickness (CCT) at 1, 3, 6 and 12 months after DMEK surgery. Complication rates were assessed, including intraoperative and postoperative complications, and graft detachment rate requiring rebubbling.


A total of 854 cases were included in this study. In 105 cases (12.3%), DMEK was performed with SF620%, and in 749 cases (87.7%) 100% air was used for anterior chamber tamponade. Outcome results for IOP, BSCVA, ECD and CCT at all follow-up time points were comparable for both anterior chamber tamponade groups without statistical significant differences (p≥0.05), but graft detachment rate requiring rebubbling was significantly lower in the SF620% group (p<0.001).


Whereas SF620% anterior chamber tamponade does not seem to negatively affect the clinical outcome of DMEK surgery within the first postoperative year, use of SF620% significantly reduces the rate of rebubblings.

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