To evaluate the outcomes of the first cases of Descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty (DMEK) performed by an anterior segment surgeon, learning the procedure, including graft preparation, primarily from watching YouTube videos. DMEK surgery was not learned during fellowship training; there was no attendance at DMEK courses, no witnessing of live surgery, and no supervision by an experienced DMEK surgeon. All graft tissue was prepared by the surgeon on the day of surgery.Methods:
This is a retrospective review of the 3-month postoperative results of the first 40 consecutive cases. The success rate of graft preparation, intraoperative and postoperative complications, spectacle-corrected visual acuity, endothelial cell density, and central corneal thickness were evaluated.Results:
Grafts were successfully prepared in all cases with no loss of donor tissue. DMEK surgery was successful in 39 of 40 eyes with the one failure occurring in a vitrectomized eye without an intact iris–lens diaphragm. Spectacle-corrected visual acuity was ≥6/6 in 23 of the 25 eyes without comorbidity. Mean endothelial cell density was 1515 (±474) cells/mm2. Mean central corneal thickness decreased from 624 (±40) μm preoperatively to 513 (±34) μm postoperatively.Conclusions:
Although formal training is desirable, good results can be obtained by an anterior segment surgeon learning DMEK, including graft preparation, without it. DMEK should no longer be considered a procedure with a long learning curve in routine cases.