Pneumatic Retinopexy is an office based, non-incisional, surgical procedure used to repair “select” cases of rhegmatogenous retinal detachments; and is often an alternative to scleral buckling and vitrectomy.
- When a single break or tear caused the detachment
- When the break is in the upper part of the retina. In these cases, the patient will need to hold their head in the proper position for at least 16 hours per day for five days or more so that the break and bubble is at its highest point.
- When multiple breaks are small and close to each other
During this procedure, your ophthalmologist will inject a gas bubble into the middle of your eyeball (vitreous cavity). Your head will be positioned so that the gas bubble floats to the detached area and presses lightly against the detachment. Then cryopexy, laser photocoagulation, or both are used to seal the tear in the retina.
The bubble helps to flatten the retina until a seal forms between the retina and the wall of the eye – this process typically takes anywhere from one to three weeks to complete. The gas bubble and the extra fluid is gradually absorbed by your eye.
Patients with these complications may not be candidates for pneumatic retinopexy:
- Severe glaucoma
- Vitreous hemorrhage
- Dense cataract
- Retinal breaks within the lowest 4 clock hours of the inferior quadrants
- Presences of proliferative vitreoretinopathy grade C or D
- The inability to comply with the required head positioning
One of the hardest parts of recovering from pneumatic retinopexy is keeping the gas bubble in the correct position until a seal forms around the retinal tear. You will not be able to lie on your back and you will need to keep your head in a certain position for most of the day and night for one to three weeks following surgery. And, you will not be able to travel via airplane because of the changes in altitude which may cause the gas bubble to expand and increase the pressure inside the eye.
Some complications of pneumatic retinopexy may include new or missed retinal breaks, cataract progression (although very uncommon), delayed subretinal fluid absorption, and subretinal gas.
Your ophthalmologist will determine whether pneumatic retinopexy is the best procedure for your condition.