Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Clinical Outcomes of Descemet Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty Versus Descemet Stripping Endothelial Keratoplasty/Descemet Stripping Automated Endothelial Keratoplasty

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To review and compare the published reports of Descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty (DMEK) and Descemet stripping endothelial keratoplasty/Descemet stripping automated endothelial keratoplasty (DSEK/DSAEK) procedures with regard to endothelial cell density/loss, best spectacle-corrected visual acuity, central corneal thickness, subjective outcomes (patient's reported satisfaction/preference), and postoperative complications.


A thorough search was conducted in the databases including AMED, EMBASE, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, and MEDLINE without date restrictions. Systematic reviews, meta-analysis, randomized controlled trials, case series, and audits comparing DMEK and DSAEK were included.


DMEK is superior to DSAEK for the following outcomes: visual acuity, central corneal thickness, and patient satisfaction. There was a statistically significant difference in the mean spectacle-corrected visual acuity at 6 months for DMEK (mean = 0.161, SD = 0.129) and DSAEK eye (mean = 0.293, SD = 0.153) conditions; t (297) = 8.042, P < 0.0001. The pooled mean difference was −0.13 (95% confidence interval, −0.16 to −0.09) and I2 = 44%, indicating better visual acuity for DMEK. Mean postoperative endothelial cell density showed statistically no significant difference in the mean values for DMEK (mean = 1855, SD = 442) and DSAEK eye (mean = 1872, SD = 429) conditions; t (336) = 0.375, P = 0.708. A higher proportion of patients prefer DMEK to DSAEK. However, DSAEK is superior to DMEK with respect to the need for rebubbling as the rebubbling rate was higher in the DMEK group.


Although DMEK is associated with a higher rate of rebubbling, better visual outcomes were seen in DMEK.

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