Corneal grafts from cancer patients more likely to cause infection

April 1, 2008

Corneal grafts obtained from cancer patients may be associated with an increased risk of infection for the recipient, according to a study published in the February issue of Archives of Ophthalmology.

Corneal grafts obtained from cancer patients may be associated with an increased risk of infection for the recipient, according to a study published in the February issue of Archives of Ophthalmology.

Sohela Hassan and colleagues from the Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, USA, used data from a surveillance registry to determine whether the donor’s health status was associated with a risk of infection in the recipient. Donor information was collected for all cases of eye infection reported for transplants performed between 1994 and 2003.

During the study period, eye banks distributed 340,174 donor corneas in the US and 109,009 internationally. A total of 162 cases of endophthalmitis were reported. The odds of infected recipients having received a cornea from a hospitalized donor were three-times that of non-infected recipients. In addition, death of the donor from cancer was considerably more likely among recipients who developed infections. The cause is not yet clear, but donors may acquire harmful microorganisms in the hospital and transmit them to patients.

The results suggest that a donor’s health may affect their eye tissue, however, the authors do not recommend excluding broad categories of donors.