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October 1997

Effect of Pterygium Morphology on Pterygium Recurrence in a Controlled Trial Comparing Conjunctival Autografting With Bare Sclera Excision

Arch Ophthalmol. 1997;115(10):1235-1240. doi:10.1001/archopht.1997.01100160405001

Objectives:  To compare success rates of conjunctival autografting and bare sclera excision for primary and recurrent pterygium in the tropics and to evaluate risk factors for pterygium recurrence.

Methods:  A prospective, controlled clinical trial was performed in which 123 primary and 34 recurrent pterygia, matched for age and pterygium morphology, were randomized in 2 separate studies to receive either bare sclera excision or conjunctival autograft. The surgical procedures were performed by one surgeon and reviewed at 1, 3, 6, and 12 months after surgery by an independent observer. Pterygium morphology was clinically graded as atrophic, intermediate, or fleshy according to an assessment of pterygium translucency. Risk factors were assessed using likelihood ratio tests. Weibull curves were used to estimate recurrence rates allowing for the interval censoring.

Results:  In the group with primary pterygium (mean follow-up, 15.1 months), 38 (61%) of the 62 cases of bare sclera excision (heretofore referred to as the bare sclera group) had pterygium recur in contrast with 1 (2%) of the 61 cases of conjunctival autograft (heretofore referred to as the conjunctival autograph group) (P<.001, likelihood ratio χ2 test). Nontranslucency, or fleshiness of the pterygium, and not age was a significant risk factor for recurrence in the bare sclera group (P<.001, likelihood ratio χ2 test). In the group with recurrent pterygium (mean follow-up, 13.2 months), 14 (82%) of the 17 bare sclera group had pterygium recur, while no recurrences occurred among 17 cases in the conjunctival autograft group. Nontranslucency was again a highly significant factor for recurrence (P<.001, likelihood ratio χ2 test).

Conclusions:  Pterygium recurrence is related to pterygium morphology and fleshiness of the pterygium is a significant risk factor for recurrence if bare sclera excision is performed. Conjunctival autografting for primary and recurrent pterygium is effective in reducing pterygium recurrence compared with bare sclera excision.