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Monitoring the inflammatory process in herpetic stromal keratitis: the role of in vivo confocal microscopy.

Ophthalmology 2012, vol. 119, issue 6

PURPOSE

To investigate the role of in vivo confocal microscopy (IVCM) in the detection of inflammatory activity and follow-up of herpetic stromal keratitis (HSK).

DESIGN

Prospective observational cohort study.

PARTICIPANTS

Thirty-eight patients with active HSK.

METHODS

Within 7 days after diagnosis of active HSK, both eyes of each patient were examined by slit-lamp biomicroscopy and white-light IVCM (Confoscan 4; Nidek Technologies, Padova, Italy). The HSK-affected eyes were followed up at 1, 3, 6, and 12 months, whereas the unaffected fellow eyes were reexamined after 12 months. Three patients did not complete follow-up and were excluded for data analyses. All IVCM examinations were assessed for morphologic alterations characteristic of inflammatory activity and for corneal backscatter. As secondary outcome parameters, best-corrected visual activity (BCVA), central corneal thickness (CCT), intraocular pressure (IOP), and endothelial cell density (ECD) were determined at each study visit. We used repeated-measures analysis of variance to assess changes during the 12-month follow-up period and paired t tests to compare HSK-affected eyes with fellow eyes.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES

Presence of dendriform cells, pseudoguttae, and keratic precipitates, and follow-up of mean corneal backscatter.

RESULTS

An increase of dendriform cells and pseudoguttae often accompanied stromal infiltration. Because these IVCM parameters were indiscernible or overlooked at slit-lamp examination, they proved to be excellent indicators of inflammatory activity. At 12 months' follow-up, mean corneal backscatter had decreased significantly by 36%, but still fell outside the normal range in 24 (69%) of the HSK-affected eyes. By using slit-lamp in conjunction with IVCM, we detected 17 recurrences in 14 of 35 patients (40%). Three of these recurrences were missed by slit-lamp, and 6 of these were missed by IVCM. At 12 months' follow-up, BCVA (-9 letters), CCT (-36 μm), and ECD (-313 cells/mm(2)) were significantly lower, whereas IOP (1.8 mmHg) was significantly higher, in HSK-affected eyes compared with fellow eyes.

CONCLUSIONS

The data presented demonstrate that IVCM is complementary to slit-lamp examination in the follow-up of HSK, particularly because of its power to detect early signs of intracorneal inflammatory activity. Therapy guidance based on morphologic assessment and corneal backscatter measurement by combined IVCM and slit-lamp examination may improve the outcome of HSK.

FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE(S)

The author(s) have no proprietary or commercial interest in any materials discussed in this article.

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