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What Is a Pars Plana Vitrectomy?

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  • Written By: Autumn Rivers
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 19 July 2014
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A pars plana vitrectomy involves removing the vitreous from the eye, which is the clear gel that is located in the back of the eyeball. The pars plana is the area of the eye where the doctor puts the instruments during the surgery, as it cannot usually be damaged easily. A vitrectomy is typically performed to treat retinal detachment, diabetic eye disease, and retinal holes, to name the most common issues that call for surgery. Once the vitreous is removed, saline solution and antibiotics are usually injected into the eye before the holes made during surgery are stitched shut.

In some cases, the vitreous fills with debris over time, reducing the ability for the patient to see clearly. Rather than attempting to remove each piece of debris, a doctor might choose to remove the vitreous entirely, replacing it with saline solution, as well as antibiotics in order to avoid infection. To do this, the doctor typically places his instruments in the pars plana, which lies between the retina and the pars placata. Since the pars plana does not have a particular function, there is little risk of harming the eye by using this area as an entry point for the necessary instruments.

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One of the most important devices involved in a pars plana vitrectomy is a small light that allows the doctor to see what he is doing during the treatment. He also uses an instrument to remove the vitreous, as well as an infusion line to make sure that the eye keeps its shape during the procedure. The typical pars plana vitrectomy can be performed using either local or general anesthesia, and is typically an outpatient treatment. In some cases, though, the patient could be required to stay in the hospital overnight.

Despite the fact that a pars plana vitrectomy is often used to treat retinal detachment, this condition is also a risk that may occur during surgery, though most doctors can reattach the retina before finishing the treatment. Other risks include increased eye pressure, infection, and vitreous hemorrhage. One of the most common risks, however, is a cataract, which describes a cloudy appearance in the eye that makes it difficult to see clearly. In addition, it is possible for patients to need a stronger eyeglass prescription after the pars plana vitrectomy, though this risk is rather rare. Finally, there is a chance of the vision becoming blurry or completely lost, but these are among some of the least common risks of a vitrectomy, especially when an experienced doctor is performing the surgery.

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