We used wide-field specular microscopy and corneal pachymetry to evaluate the effect of anterior chamber irrigation with BSS and BSS Plus on the corneal endothelium of cats. Endothelial changes were quantitated by computerized morphometric analysis of individual cells. After short-term (15 and 30 minutes) and long-term (one and two hours) irrigation, endothelial cell density remained unchanged. Corneal thickness increased significantly in the BSS group after one hour of irrigation. BSS Plus caused minimal changes in endothelial morphologic characteristics regardless of the irrigation time. By comparison, BSS caused a significant increase in the coefficient of variation of cell area (polymegethism) and a decrease in the percentage of hexagonal cells (pleomorphism). These changes were more prominent after prolonged irrigation. The morphologic changes caused by BSS irrigation are indicative of a stressed endothelial monolayer that may be more susceptible to additional surgical trauma.
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