Background: Fibroblastic proliferation of subconjunctival tissues remains a primary mechanism of failure in filtration surgery. Minimizing the surgical manipulation of episcleral tissues may reduce scarring. Laser sclerostomy surgery involves minimal tissue dissection, and is gaining attention as a method of potentially improving filter duration in high-risk cases. Methods: Twenty-five New Zealand rabbits underwent filtration surgery in one eye, and the fellow eye remained as the unoperated control. Ten rabbits underwent ab externo diode laser sclerostomy surgery, ten underwent ab interno diode sclerostomy surgery, and five had posterior sclerostomy procedures. Filtration failure was defined as a less-than-4-mmHg intraocular pressure (IOP) difference between the operative and control eyes. Results: The mean time to failure for the ab externo, ab interno, and conventional posterior sclerostomy techniques measured 17.4 ± 11.5, 13.1 ± 6.7, and 6.0 ± 3.1 days, respectively. In a comparison of the laser-treated groups with the conventional procedure, the time to failure was significantly longer (P = 0.02) for the ab externo filter. The mean ab interno sclerostomy duration was longer than the posterior lip procedure, but this difference was not statistically significant (P = 0.15). The overall level of IOP reduction was similar in the three groups. Conclusions: These data suggest that diode laser sclerostomy is a feasible technique in rabbits, and the ab externo approach resulted in longer filter duration than the conventional posterior lip procedure in this model.
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