Corneal Grafts Using Donor TissueMarch 11, 2019

Surgery Case Notes

Corneal Grafts

Written by Megan Cahill Burt AAS, BS - Ophthalmology Clinical Supervisor

As an alternative to performing conjunctival grafts and grafts with material such as BioSISt in dogs and cats, Dr. Clode and Dr. Cassotis perform corneal grafts using frozen donor tissue banked at Port City and Mass Vet Referral Hospital. Donors are screened to ensure corneal disease is not present and are accepted with owner permission on patients that have been euthanized in our hospitals. While it is a time of grieving for clients who are euthanizing their pet, most clients take comfort knowing that their pet’s donation is saving the vision of another pet in need. Transplanting actual cornea tends to have a more cosmetic outcome with less scarring than use of non-corneal tissue. Although the introduction of new, foreign tissue into a body in a graft always carries a risk of complications, corneal transplants have a high success rate.


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Feline corneal sequestrum prior to surgery. After the sequestrum is excised,
the donor tissue is properly measured to
ensure fit and transferred onto the patient’s cornea.
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Post-operative appearance
of the corneal graft sutured
in place.
Post transplant clarity.

Patients receiving a corneal graft at Port City or Mass Vet undergo general anesthesia and requires the use of an operating microscope for a microscopic detailed dissection of the damaged and transplanted tissue. Patients spend one night in the hospital so that we can carefully monitor their recovery and administer topical and intravenous medications as needed. Patients go home on topical eye medications, oral medications, and are fitted with an Elizabethan collar. Regular reexaminations are scheduled to monitor the progression of healing.

About our Team

Nick Cassotis, DVM, DACVO and Alison Clode, DVM, DACVO

cassotisnDr. Nick Cassotis graduated from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst in 1993. He received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Michigan State University in 1998. Dr. Cassotis then completed his internship at

North Carolina State University and his residency in comparative ophthalmology from Michigan State University. He passed his board certification examination and is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists.

Dr. Cassotis specializes in veterinary ophthalmology. The service offers a full complement of medical and surgical options for ocular and periocular disease. His main areas of interest include the medical and surgical management of corneal disease, cataracts, and glaucoma. The service as a whole is dedicated to understanding your pet’s disease process in order to offer potential treatments for preventing vision loss.

Alison Clode, DVM, DACVODr. Alison Clode is a native of Spokane, Washington, she completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington.  She obtained her veterinary degree from Washington State

University in 2003 and completed a one-year small animal medical and surgical internship at Colorado State University in 2004.  Her residency training in comparative veterinary ophthalmology was completed at North Carolina State University in 2007; she achieved Diplomate status in the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (ACVO) that same year.

Dr. Clode served on the faculty, as an Assistant and then Associate Professor, of the NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine from 2007 to June 2014, at which time she moved to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and joined Port City Veterinary Referral Hospital.

In addition to authoring numerous research articles and book chapters, Dr. Clode has lectured extensively in the US and internationally on topics covering both small animal and equine ophthalmology.


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