Early Complications More Frequent After Trabeculectomy Than Tube Shunt Implants

Cheerful patient smiling under protective mask when having eye pressure measured
Young woman wearing a medical protective mask when having eye pressure measured at the ophthalmologist
Rates for late complications and reoperations after 5 years were similar between trabeculectomy and tube shunts.

This article is part of Ophthalmology Advisor’s conference coverage from the 2021 meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, held in New Orleans from November 12 to 15, 2021. The team at Ophthalmology Advisor will be reporting on a variety of the research presented by the ophthalmology experts at the AAO. Check back for more from the AAO 2021 Meeting.


While early complications were more frequent after trabeculectomy with mitomycin C (MMC) than tube shunt surgery, the rates of late complications and reoperations were similar, according to research presented at the American Academy of Ophthalmology meeting in New Orleans, held November 12-15. The study reviewed patient outcomes 5 years after the initial surgery.

The investigators considered 242 patients who had no previous incisional ocular surgery and had medically uncontrolled glaucoma. Trabeculectomy with MMC was performed on 117 patients, while the other 125 received the primary tube surgery. The primary tube surgery used a 350 mm2 Baerveldt glaucoma implant. 

Early surgical complications occurred in 20% of the patients who received the tube surgery and 33% of patients who received trabeculectomy. Late complications occurred in 22% of the tube surgery group and 26% of the trabeculectomy group. Three patients in the tube group and 9 patients in the trabeculectomy group underwent reoperations. 

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Barton K, Gedde SJ, Lim K-S, et al. Surgical complications in the primary tube versus trabeculectomy study during 5 years of follow-up. Paper presented at: American Academy of Ophthalmology 2021 Annual Meeting; November 12-15, 2021; New Orleans. Abstract PA006.