Graefe's archive for clinical and experimental ophthalmology = Albrecht von Graefes Archiv fur klinische und experimentelle Ophthalmologie

Retinal vascular occlusion after vitrectomy with retrobulbar anesthesia-observational case series and survey of literature.

PMID 21850439


Severe postoperative loss of vision has been occasionally reported as a rare complication of retrobulbar anesthesia, and several possible causes have been proposed in the literature. In this work, our own and other investigators' experiences with these complications are surveyed with a view to identifying its pathophysiology. This observational case series refers to six patients who presented during a 3-month period with occlusion of either the central artery itself (n = 3) or a branch thereof (n = 3) 2-14 days after uneventful vitreoretinal surgery following retrobulbar anesthesia with a commercial preparation of mepivacaine (1% Scandicain®, Astra Chemicals, Sweden) containing methyl- and propyl parahydroxybenzoate as preservatives. Three of the patients carried risk factors, which were medically controlled. In three individuals, vasoocclusion was observed after a second vitreoretinal intervention, which was performed 3-12 months after uneventful primary surgery. Good visual recovery was observed in only one instance. In patients who were anesthetized with preservative-free mepivacaine, no vasoocclusion occurred. In individuals who were anesthetized with mepivacaine containing the preservatives methyl- and propyl parahydroxybenzoate, a tenfold increase in the incidence of eyes requiring re-operation was documented, with a 2- to 14-day lapse in the onset of vasoocclusion. These findings reveal a possible implication of preservatives contained in the local anesthetic solution for the vasoocclusive events. Due to this potential hazard, the use of preservative-free preparations of local anesthesia in ocular surgery is emphasized in order to prevent this sight-threatening complication.