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Objectives: To describe the efficacy of porcine small intestinal submucosa in corneal reconstructive surgery in dogs and cats through a large retrospective study.

Methods: A retrospective evaluation of 106 cases of surgical reconstruction of the cornea with small intestinal submucosa seen between May 2005 and January 2010 was carried out. The corneal defect was filled by microsurgical grafting of porcine small intestinal submucosa. The biomaterial implant was deposited in one or several layers depending on the depth of the defect. The animals were examined 3, 6 and 12 weeks after surgery.

Results: Vision was preserved in all eyes at three months post-surgery. In 74 cases (69.8%) the corneal scar was either transparent or discrete, whilst in 32 cases (30.2%) a mild or marked scar was observed. Minor complications occurred in 9 cases (8.5%) with partial integration of the small intestinal submucosa and in 24 cases (22.6%) with faint or mild corneal pigmentation, without impairing vision. In cases followed over a period longer than three months, major complications occurred in five dogs resulting in vision impairment because of pronounced pigmentation.

Clinical Significance: Corneal grafting of porcine small intestinal submucosa is an effective method for corneal reconstruction resulting in corneal transparency in most cases. It is an excellent alternative to conventional conjunctival grafts.