Deep anterior lamellar keratoplasty, or DALK, is a partial thickness corneal transplant procedure used to treat disease or injury confined to anterior layers of the cornea: the epithelium, Bowman's layer and stroma.
During the DALK procedure, surgeons use a trephine to separate and remove the anterior layers of the cornea from the innermost layer. Once the diseased layers are removed, a donor cornea that has been stripped of the Descemet's membrane and endothelium is sutured in.
DALK is most often used to treat keratoconus and corneal scarring. Like other partial thickness corneal transplant procedures, DALK has some distinct advantages over traditional PK surgery including:
- Fewer post-operative complications
- Decreased risk of graft rejection and damage or infection in other parts of they eye
- Similar visual outcomes with a shorter recovery period
DALK is generally performed on an outpatient basis using local anesthetic. DALK does carry some risks. Because it is a technically precise procedure, perforation of the Descemet's membrane can occur, sometimes necessitating a full thickness PK procedure. Other possible complications include inflammation, infection, suture-related problems and graft rejection.
Talk to your doctor to learn more about DALK and whether you qualify for this partial thickness corneal transplant procedure.