In some types of patients with severe corneal disease, a partial transplant of the cornea can be performed involving only the inner “endothelial” layer of the cornea. This surgery has several names including “Descemet’s Stripping Automated Endothelial Keratoplasty” or DSAEK. DSAEK is particularly well-suited in patients who have corneal damage from previous cataract surgery or suffer from Fuchs corneal endothelial dystrophy.
In DSAEK, the central area of a patient's inner endothelial cornea layer is replaced with a donor’s cornea endothelium. The surgery is a same-day procedure that takes about one and one half hours. It can be performed either with local anesthesia and a mild intravenous sedative or under general anesthesia.
Endothelial transplantation has several advantages over full *corneal transplantation* [link] when it is the appropriate surgical choice. The healing time is more rapid, the visual quality can be much better and the risk of corneal rejection is a bit lower.
Corneal endothelial transplants are performed at both Saint Barnabas Hospital in Livingston and Trinitas Hospital in Elizabeth.