PURPOSE: To report a series of recurrent idiopathic macular holes treated by means of a free autologous internal limiting membrane flap and compare visual and anatomic results to a control group undergoing further internal limiting membrane peeling and novel gas tamponade.
METHODS: Retrospective surgical series of 15 consecutive patients receiving autologous internal limiting membrane flap compared to 14 patients operated on for internal limiting membrane peeling enlargement. Autologous internal limiting membrane flap was created after brilliant blue G staining, internal limiting membrane lifting, perfluorocarbon bubble injection and creation of a wide internal limiting membrane free flap translocated underneath perfluorocarbon liquid, to the macular hole bed. Both groups were tamponated with 20% SF6 and positioned face down for 4 h a day for 3 days.
RESULTS: Macular hole closed in 14/15 (93.3%) patients of the autologous internal limiting membrane group and 9/14 (64.2%) controls (p < 0.05). Visual acuity increased from 0.05 ± 0.03 to 0.23 ± 0.13 Snellen in the autologous internal limiting membrane group and from 0.05 ± 0.03 to 0.14 ± 0.10 Snellen of controls (p < 0.05 for both). Vision of the autologous internal limiting membrane group improved more than controls at 1 month (p = 0.043) and 3 months (p = 0.045). Inner segment/outer segment interruption at 3 months was smaller in the autologous internal limiting membrane group than controls, reducing from 1230 ± 288 µm at baseline to 611 ± 245 and 547 ± 204 µm at 3 months versus 1196 ± 362, 745 ± 222 and 705 ± 223 µm, respectively (p < 0.05).
CONCLUSION: Autologous internal limiting membrane flap can effectively close recurrent idiopathic macular holes with a higher closure rate, smaller residual inner segment/outer segment line interruption and higher visual acuity at 3 months than previous standard of care.