Introduction: Recipients of corneal transplants are at risk of healthcare-associated infections, which, apart from other causes of surgical site infections, may also occur as a result of the transfer of infected corneal tissue. In this study we assessed the risk of bacterial and fungal infections based on the results of routine microbiological testing of cornea preservation fluid samples.
Material and methods: We examined a total of 725 samples of corneal preservation fluid, obtained during a period of 3 years (2011-2013). Corneal preservation fluid samples were cultured and identified in accordance with standard microbiological methods.
Results: The analysis comprised 725 samples of corneal preservation fluid, of which 32 (4.4%) samples tested positively in microbiological cultures. In total, 34 strains of bacteria and fungi were cultured. Gram-positive bacteria, Gram-negative bacteria and fungi comprised 85.3%, 8.8% and 5.9% of these strains, respectively. Analysis of the susceptibility of the cultured bacterial isolates to gentamicin was also performed, as this antibiotic is present in the composition of corneal preservation fluid. Among the cultured bacterial strains, 10 (33.3%) were resistant to gentamicin. None of the 32 patients who received a cornea stored in preservation fluid contaminated with bacteria and/or fungi demonstrated infectious complications in the surgical site within 1 year following cornea transplantation.
Conclusions: We postulate that perioperative antibiotic prophylaxis in cornea transplant recipients is important in preventing bacterial infections derived from the donor cornea. We believe that the addition of an antifungal agent to commercially available cornea preservation fluids should also be considered.