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Retained foreign objects after routine cataract surgery: a systematic review.

PURPOSE: Retained foreign objects (RFOs) can place patients undergoing cataract surgery at risk for significant vision-threatening complications. In this systematic review, we examine the characteristics, clinical outcomes, and management of RFOs originating from surgical instruments or the surgical field after routine cataract surgery.

METHODS: Using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines, we searched five databases in June 2023. The inclusion criteria were peer-reviewed, full-text, English-language articles describing RFOs after routine cataract surgery. Studies that described non-routine cataract surgeries, patients with a history of ocular trauma, or organic RFOs were excluded. Two investigators independently extracted data and appraised the methodological quality of each study using Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE).

RESULTS: Twenty-eight studies were included in our qualitative synthesis describing metal, fiber, and plastic RFOs. Typically, the RFOs were detected during surgery or slit-lamp examination. Presentations of patients with metal or fiber RFOs varied, with some being asymptomatic. Patients with plastic RFOs were usually symptomatic, often with decreased visual acuity and/or anterior chamber inflammation. Metal RFOs may have originated from metal fatigue from prolonged instrument usage and contact between surgical instruments, fiber RFOs from surgical wipes and gauzes, and plastic RFOs from instrument wrapping and intraocular lens defects. Factors such as location, biocompatibility, and secondary intraocular inflammation influenced the decision to surgically remove RFOs. Following surgical removal, the signs and symptoms resolved in most patients with RFOs. The studies' GRADE ratings indicated limitations in risk of bias and imprecision.

CONCLUSION: The presentation and management of RFOs varied depending on the type of material. To prevent RFOs, clinicians should carefully inspect surgical instruments and packs and use fiber-free wipes, towels, and gauzes. Future studies should investigate the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of different RFO prevention strategies.

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