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Keywords:

  • cat;
  • dog;
  • melting ulcer;
  • small intestinal submucosa;
  • xenograft

Abstract Purpose   To evaluate the efficacy of using a porcine small intestinal submucosa (SIS) graft for the surgical repair of deep melting ulcers in dogs and cats.

Methods   Two cats and five dogs presented with deep and large melting ulcers of the cornea. In each case, the necrotic and collagenolytic tissue of the cornea was removed by keratectomy. A SIS graft, 1 mm greater than the corneal defect, was rehydrated in sterile saline and sutured to the edges of the ulcer with a simple interrupted pattern of 9/0 polyglactin 910. A nictitating membrane flap was utilized in two cats and four dogs for 2 weeks. All cases were treated postoperatively with topical and systemic antibiotics, a systemic anti-inflammatory drug and topical atropine. All animals were re-evaluated 15 days, 4 weeks, 35–45 days, 2–3 months and 6 months postsurgery.

Results   At 15 days postsurgery, a superficial intense corneal neovascularization surrounded the SIS graft. No ocular discomfort was present and fluorescein staining was negative in all cases. At 4 weeks the SIS graft was thick and opaque in all cases, although in one cat the SIS graft had partially detached. Between 35 and 45 days, SIS graft integration was evident in all eyes, and corneal neovascularization had decreased progressively. All eyes healed without complications and retained corneal transparency. This occurred even in the presence of corneal perforation in two cases: one prior to and one during surgery.

Conclusion   Results of our study suggest the SIS graft may be an effective alternative surgical treatment to the traditional conjunctival grafts commonly used to repair melting ulcers in dogs and cats. The advantages of using a SIS graft include good corneal transparency, preservation of corneal integrity and maintenance of vision.