Epimacular brachytherapy for previously treated neovascular age-related macular degeneration: month 36 results of the MERLOT randomised controlled trial

MERLOT Study Group

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Abstract

Background/aim To assess the long-term safety and efficacy of epimacular brachytherapy (EMB) for chronic, active, neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD).

Methods This pivotal, randomised, controlled surgical device trial recruited patients with chronic nAMD receiving intravitreal ranibizumab from 24 UK hospitals. Participants were randomised to either pars plana vitrectomy with 24 Gray EMB and pro re nata (PRN) ranibizumab (n=224) or PRN ranibizumab monotherapy (n=119). Although masking was not possible, masked clinicians assessed best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA) and imaging. After month 24, participants reverted to standard care, with either ranibizumab or aflibercept, returning for a month 36 study visit.

Results Of 363 participants, 309 (85.1%) completed month 36. The number of injections was 12.1±8.1 in the EMB group versus 11.4±6.1 in the ranibizumab group (difference 0.7, 95% CI of difference −0.9 to 2.3, p=0.41) between months 1 and 36, and 3.6±3.3 (n=200) versus 3.9±2.7 (n=102) (difference −0.3, 95% CI of difference −1.0 to 0.4, p=0.43) between months 25 and 36 (standard care). Over 36 months, BCVA change was −19.7±18.5 letters in the EMB group and −4.8±12.5 in the ranibizumab group (difference −14.9, 95% CI of difference −18.5 to −11.2, p<0.0001). The month 36 BCVA of 20 EMB-treated participants with microvascular abnormalities (MVAs) at month 24 was similar to EMB-treated participants without MVAs (−21.8 vs −19.4 letters, p=0.65).

Conclusion EMB does not reduce the number of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) injections, either within or outside of a trial setting, and is associated with worse BCVA than anti-VEGF monotherapy.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Ophthalmology
Early online date25 Feb 2022
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online date - 25 Feb 2022

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