Surgical embolus removal in retinal artery occlusion

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Aims:To evaluate the anatomical outcomes, safety and functional effectiveness of surgical embolus removal in retinal artery occlusion (RAO).Methods:Prospective study of seven patients with RAO of <36 h duration. All eyes underwent pars plana vitrectomy and a longitudinal incision of the anterior wall of the occluded arteriole in an attempt to remove the embolus. Outcome measures included visual acuity and arteriolar reperfusion, as evaluated with fluorescein angiography.Results:Surgical removal of the embolus was achieved in six of the seven (87.5%) patients, visual acuity improved from a median of 20/400 (range: hand movements 20/25) to 20/40 (range: hand movements 20/25), and reperfusion of the occluded vessel was angiographically confirmed in four of the six patients in whom the embolus was successfully removed.Conclusion:Surgical removal of retinal arterial emboli seems to be an effective and safe treatment for RAO, but a randomised and controlled clinical trial will be necessary to establish an evidence base for the role, if any, of this intervention.

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