Conference Coverage

Tegaderm eliminates corneal abrasions in robotic gynecologic surgery



– There hasn’t been a single corneal abrasion in 860 cases of gynecologic robotic surgery at the University of Texas, Austin, since surgeons and anesthesiologists there started sealing women’s eyes shut with a thick layer of ointment and Tegaderm, instead of the usual small squeeze of ointment and tape, according to Michael T. Breen, MD, a gynecologic surgeon at the university.

M. Alexander Otto/MDedge News

Dr. Michael Breen

“Go back to your hospital, meet with your anesthesiologists, and see what you’re doing to protect your patients’ eyes,” Dr. Breen said at the meeting, sponsored by the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists.

Slathered eyes and Tegaderm are now standard practice at the university. Before the switch was made, there were six corneal abrasions in 231 cases over 6 months. Two of those patients stayed longer in the hospital than they would have otherwise. The changes have eliminated the problem.

The impetus for the switch was a 42-year-old woman who had a robotic hysterectomy. The surgery went fine, but then Dr. Breen had to rush back to the recovery room. The woman was screaming in pain, not from her surgery, but from her left eye.

Corneal abrasions are a well-known risk of surgery because anesthesia decreases tear production and dries the eyes. Robotic gynecologic surgery increases the risk even more, because patients are under longer than with other approaches, and the steep Trendelenburg increases intraocular pressure and eye edema, especially with excess IV fluid.

And “believe it or not, having a pulse oximeter on the dominant hand [also] increases your risk of ocular injury,” Dr. Breen said. Sometimes, patients wake up, go to rub their eyes, and drag the device across their cornea, he said.

The screaming patient – who recovered without permanent damage – prompted Dr. Breen and his colleagues to turn to the literature for solutions. “One was a fully occlusive eye dressing, more than the tape we’ve all been accustomed to, with thick eye ointment application and Tegaderm applying positive pressure to the eye,” he said.

Dr. Michael Breen/University of Texas, Austin

Slathering the eyes of gynecologic robotic surgery patients with ointment and Tegaderm are now standard practice at the University of Texas, Austin.

Dr. Breen showed his audience a slide of the setup. “It looks a little unorthodox, but this is how every one of our robotic patients now have their eyes protected. Thick gel which is then covered with a positive pressure Tegaderm,” he said.

Another change was telling patients to keep their hands off their eyes for the first few postop hours, and placing the pulse ox on the nondominant hand. The team already had been decreasing IV fluids as part of their enhanced recovery after surgery protocol, and bringing patients out of steep Trendelenburg as soon as possible.

With the changes, “the rate of corneal abrasions decreased from 2.6% to 0% – and has stayed there,” Dr. Breen said.

There’ve been no allergic reactions to Tegaderm and no eyelid problems. “What we have seen with the simple taping is that, when it comes off, so does some of the eyelid, particularly with geriatric patients. We have not seen that with Tegaderm,” he said.

“Some people use goggles to protect the eyes, and we thought initially that the camera was hitting the face, so we used the Mayo stand to protect it from the camera,” but that didn’t turn out to be the problem, he said. “Goggles actually may make things worse.”

The project had no industry funding, and Dr. Breen had no relevant disclosures.

SOURCE: Breen MT et al. 2018 AAGL Global Congress, Abstract 16.

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