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Amniotic membrane transplantation for corneal surface reconstruction after excision of corneolimbal squamous cell carcinomas in nine horses


Address communications to: M. E. Kallberg Tel.: (352) 392-4700 Fax: (352) 392-6125 e-mail:


Objective  The purpose of this study was to evaluate the usefulness and effectiveness of permanent amniotic membrane transplantation as an adjunctive treatment to superficial keratectomy alone or combined with strontium-90 irradiation for treatment of equine corneolimbal squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) to decrease corneal scarring and recurrence rate.

Study  The retrospective case study included 11 horses (n = 12 eyes) diagnosed and treated for ocular SCC that involved the limbus and cornea. Nine of those horses (n = 9 eyes) were treated between 2002 and 2006, with superficial lamellar keratectomy alone or combined with strontium-90 irradiation and followed by placement of a permanent amniotic membrane graft in the surgical defect. The level of scarring (i.e. the clarity of the cornea) resulting with the use of amniotic membrane was subjectively compared to cases where a permanent bulbar conjunctival graft was performed following keratectomy combined with strontium-90 irradiation or cryotherapy (n = 3 eyes). Recurrence was defined as the postoperative and postirradiation regrowth of SCC in the same site and globe.

Results  The nine horses that received an amniotic membrane graft after keratectomy alone or combined with irradiation showed a minimal level of scarring in a cornea that regained a greater transparency in comparison to the horses that were treated with a bulbar conjunctival graft. All of the horses that received an amniotic membrane graft had 226 ± 218 days of follow-up without tumor recurrence (mean ± SD), ranging from 21 days to 778 days.

Conclusions  The combination of superficial keratectomy alone or associated with β-irradiation and permanent amniotic membrane transplantation is an effective treatment of corneal or corneolimbal SCC in horses. The placement of an amniotic membrane material represents an alternative surgical procedure to bulbar conjunctival grafts, especially if there is a lack of bulbar conjunctiva tissue available after tumor resection or if a particularly large corneal resection is necessary. The amniotic membrane is incorporated into the corneal defect and seems to create noticeably much less scarring than a corneal defect covered by bulbar conjunctiva.