Objectives: To determine the reported incidence of acute endophthalmitis following cataract extraction over time and to explore possible contributing factors, such as type of cataract incision. Methods: A systematic review of English-language articles was conducted by performing a broad search of PubMed from 1963 through March 2003 using such terms as cataract extraction, endophthalmitis, and postoperative complication. Additional studies were identified from bibliographies of relevant articles and published proceedings. Surgical approach was recorded, when available. Pooled incidence rates and relative risks of developing endophthalmitis using different incision techniques were assessed. Results: From 4916 unique, potentially relevant citations, 215 studies that addressed endophthalmitis and met the selection criteria were analyzed. A total of 3 140 650 cataract extractions were pooled resulting in an overall rate of 0.128% of postcataract endophthalmitis. However, the incidence of acute endophthalmitis changed over time, with a significant increase since 2000 compared with previous decades (relative risk, 2.44 [95% confidence interval, 2.27-2.61]). The rate of endophthalmitis was 0.265% in the 2000-2003 period, 0.087% in the 1990s, 0.158% in the 1980s, and 0.327% during the 1970s. Furthermore, an upward trend in rates after 1992 was noted, compared with 1991 and prior. Incision type appeared to significantly influence risk, as endophthalmitis following clear corneal cataract extraction during the 1992-2003 period was 0.189% compared with 0.074% (relative risk, 2.55 [95% confidence interval, 1.75-3.71]) for scierai incision and 0.062% (relative risk, 3.06 [95% confidence interval, 2.48-3.76]) for limbal incision. Conclusions: This systematic review indicates that the incidence of endophthalmitis associated with cataract extraction has increased over the last decade. This upward trend in endophthalmitis frequency coincides temporally with the development of sutureless clear corneal incisions.
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