Objective: To characterize histopathologic features of leaking mitomycin C-treated blebs and aberrant wound healing that may lead to persistent conjunctival thinning and leakage. Methods: Forty mitomycin C-treated filtering blebs excised for persistent leaks from 40 patients were examined histopathologically using hematoxylin-eosin, periodic acid-Schiff, Masson trichrome, and Alcian blue histochemical stains. Results: Ninety percent of the leaking blebs contained epithelial-stromal domes with areas of acellular stroma covered by attenuated epithelium. Seventy-five percent of the blebs demonstrated varying degrees of fibrovascular repair growing from the bleb margin, either beneath or interdigitating with the acellular zone. A novel observation in 65% of specimens was Alcian blue-positive myxoid stroma at the interface between the fibrovascular proliferation and the epithelial-stromal dome. The association between the presence of fibrovascular proliferation and Alcian blue-staining myxoid stroma was significant by Fisher exact test (P = .002). Conclusions: A desirable filtration bleb requires a sufficient reparative fibrovascular response to maintain an epithelial-stromal barrier to prevent leakage. Fibroblasts must lay down a continuous collagen-rich fibrous layer, rather than merely myxoid stroma, beneath the conjunctival epithelium to promote bleb stability. Surgical techniques and postsurgical care should aim to attain this desired outcome.
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