Recognizing and Managing Bullous Descemet Detachment Secondary to Accidental Hydroseparation During Phacoemulsification/Cataract Surgery by Relaxing Descemetotomy

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To report a new technique called relaxing Descemetotomy for treatment of bullous Descemet detachment (BDD) secondary to accidental hydroseparation of Descemet membrane (DM) during stromal hydration in cataract surgery.


A clear corneal keratome entry was created close to the limbus extending inward to create a relaxing cut (ab externo relaxing Descemetotomy) on taut DM, thus creating an egress route for supra-Descemetic fluid (SDF). This was followed by pneumodescemetopexy to drain SDF internally.


Three patients with a history of unsuccessful pneumodescemetopexy and with planar or mildly convex separation of DM without break on anterior segment optical coherence tomography (ASOCT) underwent this procedure. All had successful reapposition of DM clinically and on ASOCT. All showed resolution of stromal edema and improved uncorrected and best-corrected visual acuity postoperatively.


Rarely stromal hydration performed with an irrigating cannula positioned too close to the posterior stroma can result in hydroseparation of DM creating BDD, seen intraoperatively as a fluid wave propagating across the posterior aspect of the cornea. Large folds, free mobility, and DM tear classically seen with rhegmatogenous Descemet detachment are not seen clinically or on ASOCT in BDD. Pneumodescemetopexy alone cannot resolve BDD because without a DM tear, SDF cannot evacuate. Combining relaxing Descemetotomy with pneumodescemetopexy allows SDF to drain internally and Descemet detachment to resolve. This technique has numerous advantages over classical venting incisions in terms of ease, preferable limbal location, larger incision size, absence of complications such as visual axis scars, irregular astigmatism, epithelial ingrowth, infectious keratitis, etc.

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