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Laser Welding Technique Could Offer Surgeons an Alternative for Closing Corneal Wounds

A laser welding technique could offer surgeons an alternative to suturing for closing corneal wounds after phacoemulsification or extracapsular cataract extraction, according to a study by researchers in Italy. However, the laser-assisted technique may affect postoperative astigmatism, the study authors noted.

Luca Menabuoni, MD, and colleagues at Hospital of Misericordia e Dolce, Prato, evaluated the efficacy of closing corneal wounds using a diode laser to "weld" the stroma after cataract surgery in 20 eyes of 20 patients. Surgeons performed phacoemulsification and ECCE in 10 eyes each. All eyes had a preoperative visual acuity worse than 20/200, according to the study.

The researchers found no wound leakage in any eyes over the course of follow-up. Additionally, patients showed rates of endothelial cell loss similar to rates reported for standard cataract surgical procedures, the authors said.

Neither collateral effects from the laser welding procedure nor postoperative inflammation were detected.

However, all eyes except one that underwent ECCE showed minor differences between the pre- and postoperative levels of astigmatism, they noted.

Despite the astigmatic effect, the laser-assisted procedure has "significant potential applications for the closure of longer incisions, such as those used in penetrating keratoplasty," the authors said.

The study is published in the September issue of Journal of Cataract & Refractive Surgery.

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