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Br J Ophthalmol. 2007 August; 91(8): 1094.
PMCID: PMC1954808

Microfoam surgical tape as practice object for scleral sutures

Performing scleral sutures in strabismus and retina surgery poses a challenge for residents as it requires high precision and allows only little room for error, with possible complications including endophthalmitis and retinal detachment from scleral perforation or muscle dehiscence.

The human sclera consists of collagen and elastin, with a thickness ranging between 0.33 mm beneath the recti muscles, 0.66 mm at the muscle insertion and 1 mm posteriorly. The three layers of the sclera are ill defined and comprise episclera, sclera proper and lamina fusca.1

Pig eyes, which are commonly used as practice objects for surgical procedures, are not always readily available, change their consistency after conservation in formalin and potentially present a risk for contamination or infection. Other commonly used practice objects include fruits such as oranges, bananas and grapes, or hard‐boiled eggs.

Microfoam surgical tape manufactured by 3M consists of rolls of closed‐cell foam and is designed for securing dressings and compression applications to joints, with a thickness of 0.8 mm and width of 1, 2 or 3 inches (fig 11).). It is elastic and has an adhesive lower surface.

figure bj111336.f1
Figure 1 3M Microfoam surgical tape, 2‐inch width.

When used as a practice object for scleral bites, achievement of appropriate suture depth can be easily checked by lifting the superficial layer from underlying layers (fig 22).). In addition, the elastic tape can be easily stretched to 0.4 mm for simulation of a thinner sclera.

figure bj111336.f2
Figure 2 Scleral bites of different depth (top left, bottom left and bottom centre): too superficial (left suture), too deep (centre suture) and adequate depth (right suture). View from underneath (top right, bottom right): suture too superficial ...

Our department's retina and strabismus specialists evaluated Microfoam surgical tape as a practice object and uniformly agreed on its authentic feel, resistance, thickness and curvature when compared with the actual human sclera.

In conclusion, Microfoam surgical tape represents a readily available, cheap, storable and easily transportable alternative to pig eyes or fruits for practicing the placement of scleral sutures with authentic characteristics and immediate feedback.


Competing interests: None declared.


1. Friedman N, Kaiser P, Trattler W. Cornea/external disease. Review of ophthalmology. Pennsylvania: Elsevier Saunders, 2005

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