Objectives: To quantify and analyze the differences between the length of the optic nerve as measured by the ophthalmologist in the operating room after enucleation and the length as measured by the pathologist after fixation. Methods: The authors performed a retrospective review of patients who underwent either primary or secondary enucleation for retinoblastoma at the Ophthalmic Oncology Center of the New York-Presbyterian Hospital-Cornell campus between November 1979 and August 2001. Intraoperative notes and pathologic reports were reviewed to determine the length of the resected optic nerve as recorded by both the surgeon and pathologist. Results: Sufficient data for inclusion in the study were available from 100 enucleation specimens belonging to 96 patients. A significant degree of shrinkage of the optic nerve occurred after fixation, with a mean shrinkage of 30.3% from the time of enucleation to the time of measurement by the pathologist. Age at enucleation affected the degree of optic nerve shrinkage; nerves from younger children underwent more shrinkage than nerves from older patients. Sex of the patient and the laterality of disease did not significantly affect optic nerve shrinkage. Conclusions: A significant degree of shrinkage of the optic nerve occurs in retinoblastoma enucleation specimens after fixation prior to pathologic analysis. This finding must be taken into account when comparing different series and making recommendations for chemoprophylaxis based solely on histopathologic examination.
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