Endothelial Cell Density Changes in the Corneal Center Versus Paracentral Areas after Descemet Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty

Aytan Musayeva, Eitan Livny, Diana C. Dragnea, Lisanne Ham, Indrė Vasiliauskaitė, Sorcha Ní Dhubhghaill, Korine Van Dijk, Silke Oellerich, Gerrit R.J. Melles*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose:To analyze whether endothelial cell density (ECD) differs between central and paracentral areas after Descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty (DMEK) and to identify the locations of the highest and lowest ECD.Methods:In this retrospective cohort study, central and paracentral ECDs of 30 eyes of 30 patients who underwent DMEK for Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy were evaluated. Central, superonasal, superotemporal, and inferior specular microscopic images were analyzed at 1, 3, 6, 9, and 12 months after DMEK. Changes in ECD by location and over time and changes in location for the highest and lowest ECD were evaluated.Results:When compared with the preoperative donor ECD, the central ECD decreased by 32 (±11)% at 12 months postoperatively. ECD decline between 1 and 12 months postoperatively in the central, inferior, superonasal, and superotemporal location were 7%, 12%, 16%, and 13%, respectively (P < 0.0001 for all locations). Mean ECD was the highest in the center between the 3- to 12-month follow-up, whereas mean ECD was the lowest in the paracentral superonasal area at all time points (P < 0.001). Mean ECD of the highest and lowest density locations differed at all follow-up time points (P < 0.003).Conclusions:Postoperative ECD was not found to be uniform across the graft. Contrary to the density distribution in the normal endothelium, paracentral area ECDs were found to be consistently lower than in the central area. These differences were most prominent in the superonasal area and persisted 12 months postoperatively. Central ECD after DMEK might, thus, not represent an accurate proxy for cell density of the entire graft.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1091-1095
Number of pages5
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • DMEK
  • cornea
  • corneal transplantation
  • endothelial migration
  • endothelium
  • posterior lamellar keratoplasty
  • specular microscopy


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