High Inflammatory Infiltrate Correlates With Poor Symptomatic Improvement After Surgical Treatment for Superior Limbic Keratoconjunctivitis

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Superior limbic keratoconjunctivitis (SLK) is a chronic and recurrent condition of unknown etiology. It is often managed conservatively, but there is a high rate of success with surgical management for severe or recalcitrant cases. The purpose of this article is to describe and analyze clinicopathological features of patients with SLK who underwent surgical treatment and their association with the clinical outcome.


A total of 22 eyes from 18 patients who underwent surgical SLK management were retrospectively analyzed. Clinicopathological data were collected including details of follow-up and patient satisfaction (n = 15). Moreover, 12 cases had specimens available for review of histopathologic findings and COX-2 expression analysis by immunohistochemistry.


From a clinical perspective, 66.7% of the SLK eyes had nonmechanical factors contributing to SLK, and 66.7% of eyes demonstrated significant symptomatic improvement after surgery. Histopathological analysis of all the lesions showed acanthosis and goblet cell loss. Unexpectedly, in 93% of the eyes, dilated lymphatic vessels were found. Furthermore, a high inflammatory infiltrate correlated with minimal symptomatic improvements (P = 0.013). Moreover, COX-2 expression was higher in patients with SLK than in a normal conjunctiva (P = 0.001).


In this study, the most common systemic association with SLK was the patient's autoimmune status. Histopathological evaluation revealed that high inflammatory infiltration in the biopsy might be predictive of minimal symptomatic improvement with surgical management. Finally, the higher COX-2 expression in patients with SLK compared with that in individuals with a normal conjunctiva supports the use of anti-COX-2 drugs as a possible therapeutic target.

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