Purpose. To determine a possible relationship between donor epithelial status on the first postoperative day after keratoplasty and the eventual health of the corneal surface. Methods. We analyzed 91 patients who underwent penetrating corneal transplantation between January 1998 and January 2000, monitoring the epithelial status of the corneas with fluorescein staining using slit-lamp biomicroscopy. Recipient pre- and postoperative variables and donor characteristics were recorded. Macroepithelial defects were classified into three groups according to the extent of the epithelial defect. The results on the first postoperative day were compared with the first and third operative month. Donor and recipient variables were compared with the epithelial status on the first and third month as well. Results. On the first postoperative day, 64.84% of the patients had epithelial defects, 10.99% had defects at the 1-month postoperative visit, and none had defects at the third month. Graft recipients with macroepithelial defects in the first postoperative month were older, had a higher prevalence of blepharitis, higher prevalence of inadequate eye hydration, and slightly increased corneal sensation compared with the group without epithelial defects; however, none of these trends were statistically significant. Patients with macroepithelial defects in the first postoperative month received older donor tissue, and the average preservation-to-surgery time was longer. These donor variables, however, were not significant statistically (p value > 0.10) in determining outcome of the epithelial status at the first or third months. Conclusions. Our results suggest that the epithelial status on the first postoperative day is not predictive of surface integrity at 1-month postoperative (p value is 0.2676 for the likehood ratio test). The epithelial status on the first postoperative day is not predictive of the status of the third month after keratoplasty, because none of the 91 patients had epithelial defects after 3 months.
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