Purpose: Previous analyses of Medicare claims data, as well as clinical series, have suggested that performance of neodymium:YAG (Nd:YAG) laser posterior capsulotomy after extracapsular cataract surgery increases significantly the risk of retinal detachment. However, methodologic problems with previous research limit the strength of conclusions that can be drawn from these earlier studies. This study was designed to resolve those methodological limitations while using a population-based approach for assessment of the independent association between the performance of Nd:YAG laser posterior capsulotomy and pseudophakic retinal detachment. Methods: A nested case-control study was conducted. Medicare beneficiaries who had undergone extracapsular cataract extraction from 1988 to 1990 were identified from a 5% sample of Medicare claims data. Within this cohort, people who were diagnosed or treated for retinal detachment during the years 1988 through 1991 (cases) were identified from Medicare records. Four controls were matched to each case of retinal detachment using an incidence density design. Providers of the patients' cataract and retinal surgery were contacted and asked to provide clinical data for all cases and controls that they had treated. Results: Seven hundred six cases of retinal detachment were originally identified from Medicare records. After exclusions due to ineligibility, a total of 291 cases and 870 matched controls were available for analysis. Conditional logistic regression models showed that a number of factors were associated independently with an excess risk of retinal detachment after cataract surgery. These included Nd:YAG laser capsulotomy (odds ratio [OR] = 3.8; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.4-5.9), a history of retinal detachment (OR = 2.7; 95% CI, 1.2-6.1), a history of lattice degeneration (OR = 6.6; 95% CI, 1.6-27.1), axial length (OR = 1.21/mm; 95% CI, 1.03-1.43), refractive error (OR = 0.92/diopter; 95% CI, 0.88-0.95), and a history of ocular trauma after cataract surgery (OR = 6.1; 95% CI, 4.3- 28.2). Conclusion: Performance of Nd:YAG laser posterior capsulotomy is associated with a significantly elevated risk of retinal detachment in patients who have undergone extracapsular cataract extraction. Other independent risk factors for retinal detachment include axial length, myopia, posterior capsular rupture during surgery, history of retinal detachment or lattice degeneration, and ocular trauma after cataract surgery.
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