A Novel Approach to Suprachoroidal Drainage for the Surgical Treatment of Intractable Glaucoma

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In glaucoma surgery, scarring of the artificial fistula is the limiting factor for long-term control of intraocular pressure (IOP). Several devices and surgical techniques have been developed for artificial aqueous humor drainage in intractable glaucoma. The authors describe a novel surgical technique that uses a silicone tube as a shunt for aqueous flow from the anterior chamber to the suprachoroidal space.

Patients and Methods

Thirty-one eyes of 31 patients with uncontrollable refractory glaucoma were included in this prospective consecutive case-control study. Each eye had undergone an average of 3.5±1.9 previous interventions for glaucoma. The baseline IOP was 44.25±8.7 mm Hg despite maximum therapy. As in trabeculectomy, a limbus-based scleral flap was prepared. The suprachoroidal space was accessed via a deep posterior scleral flap. The silicone tube was inserted as an intrascleral connection from the anterior chamber to the suprachoroidal space. Cyclodialysis was avoided by this surgical approach. Success was defined as a lowering of IOP to below 21 mm Hg without the need for further medication or intervention.


The mean functional shunt survival was 55.9±45.6 weeks. IOP was reduced to 12.9±5.2 mm Hg in 70% of all eyes after 30 weeks postoperatively. After 52 weeks, 60% of the eyes could be classified as representing success, and 76 weeks after surgery, 40% of the eyes still showed controlled IOP. In none of the eyes were severe postoperative hypotony or suprachoroidal bleeding observed. No localized or general inflammation or infection was seen in connection with the silicon tube. Two patients needed anterior chamber lavage because of bleeding. In 2 patients the tube had to be removed because of corneal endothelial contact. Shunt failure of the tube was caused in some cases by connective tissue formation at the posterior lumen of the tube.


This novel surgical approach and the placement of the silicone tube described here have several advantages. Its intrascleral course minimizes the risk of conjunctival erosion and associated infections. No cyclodialysis is performed. Connection to the suprachoroidal space exploits the resorptive capability of the choroid. It guarantees drainage but also provides a natural counterpressure, avoiding severe postoperative hypotony. The suprachoroidal shunt presented here achieves good follow-up results in terms of IOP control. No serious complications have been observed. This new method promises to be an effective surgical technique and presents a new therapeutic option in intractable glaucoma. Fibroblast reaction obstructing the posterior lumen, seemed to be the only factor limiting drainage. Further studies and experiments will be needed to elucidate the exact physiologic mechanisms underlying the draining, the capacity and duration of the draining effect, and the histologic background of suprachoroidal scarring.

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