Comparative Study
Controlled Clinical Trial
Journal Article
Multicenter Study
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
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Final report of the early vs. late infantile strabismus surgery study (ELISSS), a controlled, prospective, multicenter study.

Strabismus 2005 December
BACKGROUND: The optimal age for surgery for infantile esotropia is controversial. Proponents of early surgery believe that further loss of binocular vision can be prevented by early surgery, a minority believes that binocular vision can even be restored by early surgery. The ELISSS compared early with late surgery in a prospective, controlled, non-randomized, multicenter trial.

METHODS: Fifty-eight clinics recruited children aged 6-18 months for the study. Each clinic operated all eligible children either 'early', i.e. at age 6-24 months, or 'late', i.e. at age 32-60 months. At baseline the angle of strabismus, refraction, degree of amblyopia and limitation of abduction were assessed. Intermediate examinations took place every six months. Children were evaluated at age six in the presence of independent observers. Primary endpoints were (i) level of binocular vision, (ii) manifest angle of strabismus at distance and (iii) remaining amblyopia. Secondary endpoints were number of operations, vertical strabismus, angle at near and the influence of surgical technique.

RESULTS: A total of 231 children were recruited for early and 301 for late surgery. Age at entry examination was 11.1 months (SD 3.7 months) in the early group and 10.9 (SD 3.7) months in the late group. Refraction, amblyopia and limitation of abduction were distributed equally in the early and late groups, but the angle of strabismus was slightly larger in the early group. Dropout-rates were 26.0% in the early and 22.3% in the late group. At age six, 13.5% of the early vs. 3.9% of the late group recognized the Titmus Housefly; 3.0% of the early and 3.9% of the late group had stereopsis beyond Titmus Housefly. No significant difference was found for angle of strabismus. 35.1% of the early group and 34.8% of the late group did not have an angle between 0 degrees and 10 degrees , the thresholds set for re-operation. For ratio of the visual acuities (remaining amblyopia) there was a small but significant advantage for the early group. There was hardly any correlation between the baseline parameters and the primary endpoints. Children scheduled for early surgery had first been operated at 20 (SD 8.4) months, but 8.2% had not been operated at age six. Children scheduled for late surgery had been operated at 49.1 (SD 12.7) months, but 20.1% had not been operated at age six. The number of operations per child was 1.18 (SD 0.67) in the early and 0.99 (SD 0.64) in the late group. Age at recruitment, age that strabismus reportedly had started and refraction at entry examination were similar among operated and non-operated children. Only the angle of strabismus at entry predicted, to some extent, whether a child had been operated at age six.

DISCUSSION: Children operated early had better gross stereopsis at age six as compared to children operated late. They had been operated more frequently, however, and a substantial number of children in both groups had not been operated at all.

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