Giant retinal tear as a complication of attempted removal of intravitreal lens fragments during cataract surgery

T M Aaberg, P E Rubsamen, H W Flynn, S Chang, W F Mieler, W E Smiddy
American Journal of Ophthalmology 1997, 124 (2): 222-6

PURPOSE: To report giant retinal tear and retinal detachment as a complication of attempted removal of intravitreal lens fragments at the time of cataract surgery and to evaluate the anatomic and visual acuity outcomes of pars plana vitrectomy and retinal reattachment surgery.

METHODS: Retrospectively, 10 patients with giant retinal tear, retinal detachment, and intravitreal lens fragments in 10 eyes were reviewed.

RESULTS: In 10 eyes, retrieval of intravitreal lens fragments using the limbal approach by deep vitrectomy, copious vitreous cavity irrigation, or deep vitreous cavity phacoemulsification had been attempted by the anterior segment surgeon at the time of cataract surgery in each patient. The average interval from cataract surgery to the initial vitreoretinal consultation was 8 days. Each of the 10 eyes had a giant retinal tear involving the inferior retina: in four eyes, of between 90 degrees and 180 degrees; in four, equal to 180 degrees; and in two, of greater than 180 degrees. After pars plana vitrectomy and retinal detachment repair, nine (90%) of 10 eyes had retinal reattachment, but seven patients required more than one operation. One eye had persistent retinal detachment, and one eye had corneal graft failure. Seven (70%) of the 10 eyes had best-corrected final visual acuity of 20/200 or better; three eyes had light-perception, hand-motion, and counting-fingers vision.

CONCLUSIONS: Aggressive attempts at intravitreal lens fragment retrieval from a limbal-based approach should be avoided because these procedures may result in serious retinal complications, such as formation of a giant retinal tear.

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