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Retinal detachment treatment patterns in Alberta

Retinal detachment is a serious eye disease in which the retina separates from the back of the eye. If left untreated, it could lead to permanent vision loss or blindness.





Ophthalmology, Retina

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Working collaboratively, we have been able to come up with best practice for specific diseases that Albertans face every day.


Background & Aim

Retinal detachment is a serious eye disease in which the retina separates from the back of the eye.  If left untreated, it could lead to permanent vision loss or blindness.

Research shows that 85% of patients suffering from retinal detachment will require only one surgical intervention to achieve successful retinal reattachment, while 15% of the patients will require multiple interventions to achieve reattachment (Ling et al., p. 828).

There are a four main procedure that retinal surgeons use for retinal reattachment: scleral buckle, vitrectomy, laser retinopexy, and pneumatic retinopexy.  However, a retinal surgeon may choose to use any combination of these procedures in order to achieve successful reattachment in the first surgical intervention.  Schaal et al. found that success rates for scleral buckle, vitrectomy, or a combination of the two are between 86-94%, while the success rate of pneumatic retinopexy alone was 63% (p. 1503).

In general, success is defined as retinal reattachment with no further surgical interventions.  This includes primary success (retinal reattachment after only one surgical intervention), secondary success (retinal reattachment after two surgical interventions), and tertiary success (retinal reattachment after three surgical interventions).

The benefits of this project by group and individual would be:

  1. Identification of treatment success rates when compared with the provincial average.

  2. Identification of the surgical treatment strategies that are most successful for patients with retinal detachment within the province. This new information, once shared, may lead to changes in surgical practice patterns for retina specialists across Alberta.

  3. Patients in Alberta may benefit from this project by the sharing of new information amongst retina specialists, thereby leading to improvements in treatment strategies for patients with retinal detachments. This may lead to fewer surgical interventions being needed to achieve surgical success by reattachment of the retina.  This could reduce patient discomfort, travel, cost, and vision loss.

  4. There is the potential to reduce the cost to the health system by having fewer repeat retinal detachment surgeries.



How Will You Protect My Data?

The report was generated by the Physician Learning Program (PLP) using Alberta Health Services (AHS) datasets (National Ambulatory Care Repository, Discharge Abstract Database). Confidentiality was of the utmost importance; this data is strictly for the participating retina specialists use and reflection. PLP Data reports on individual participating physicians are never shared with AHS, department heads, regulatory bodies or other stakeholders.

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