To evaluate the precision of retinal tissue dissection by the pulsed electron avalanche knife (PEAK) and to assess possible toxic effects from this device.To demonstrate precision of cutting, bovine retina (in vitro) and rabbit retina (in vivo) were incised with the PEAK. Samples were examined by scanning electron microscopy and histologic examination (light microscopy). To evaluate possible toxic effects in rabbit eyes, 30 000 pulses were delivered into the vitreous 1 cm above the retina. Histologic examinations and electroretinography were performed at intervals up to 1 month after exposure.Cuts in postmortem bovine retina showed extremely sharp edges with no signs of thermal damage. Full-thickness cuts in living attached rabbit retina were similarly sharp and were typically less than 100 microm wide. No signs of retinal toxic effects were detected by histologic examination or electroretinography.The PEAK is capable of precise cutting through retinal tissue, and there are no demonstrable retinal toxic effects from its use. The precision and tractionless nature of PEAK cutting offers advantages over mechanical tools and laser-based instrumentation. We believe this new device will prove useful in a variety of vitreoretinal surgical applications.
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