A pilot study on slit lamp-adapted optical coherence tomography imaging of trabeculectomy filtering blebs

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Abstract

Background

Our study aims to identify anatomical characteristics of glaucoma filtering blebs by means of slit lamp-adapted optical coherence tomography (SL-OCT) and to identify new parameters for the functional prognosis of the filter in the early post-operative period.

Methods

Patients with primary open-angle glaucoma, aged 18 years and older, scheduled for primary trabeculectomy at the Department of Ophthalmology, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, were considered for our study. All patients underwent standardized trabeculectomy with intra-operative application of mitomycin C. The filtering blebs were evaluated clinically and with SL-OCT on day 1 and 1, 2, 4 and 12 weeks following surgery. The resulting data were analysed and weighed against surgical success. To better understand the SL-OCT data a small comparative histologic study was performed.

Results

The study included 20 eyes of 20 patients. After completion of our study, 15 eyes of 15 patients (mean age±SD 67 ± 16 years) were eligible for data analysis and 5 eyes missed at least one follow-up visit. Filtering surgery was considered successful (intraocular pressure ≤ 21 mmHg without antiglaucomatous medication) in 11 of 15 eyes. SL-OCT frequently demonstrated multiple hypo-reflective layers within Tenon’s capsule (“striping” phenomenon) in the first post-operative week. Presumably, these layers corresponded with drainage channels in the histological specimen. These channels were present in functional filters but not in the failures. In addition, the visualisation of the sclera below the filtering zone was better defined in failures compared with successful filtering blebs (“shading” phenomenon). We observed no differences in the volume and clinical aspect of the blebs in the successful group compared with the unsuccessful group.

Conclusions

Successful filtering blebs show characteristic optical properties on SL-OCT. These phenomena suggest a diffusely enhanced fluid content and the presence of intra-bleb drainage channels in functional filtering blebs.

Meeting presentation

Presented in part as a poster at the 1st World Glaucoma Congress, Vienna, Austria, July 2005.

Financial disclosure

Medical Workshop, Groningen, Netherlands, made the slit lamp-adapted optical coherence tomography device available to one of the authors (T. Theelen) with support from the manufacturer, Heidelberg Engineering, Lübeck, Germany. There are no other competing interests.