Current status of retrolental fibroplasia. The retinopathy of prematurity

J. W. Payne, A. Patz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


A recent cooperative study reported on 719 premature infants from five major university hospitals who received oxygen primarily for the respiratory distress syndrome. The late Dr. V. Everett Kinsey coordinated and directed the study. It was initially hoped that this study would establish an arterial oxygen saturation level above which retrolental fibroplasia occurred more frequently. However, the results could not relate the incidence of retrolental fibroplasia to arterial oxygen saturation as presently intermittently sampled. However, the incidence of retrolental fibroplasia was related to birth weight and time in oxygen in all the infants. It was also related to the concentration of incubator oxygen used in those infants with a birth weight of less than 1201 grams. The most important finding was an incidence of active retrolental fibroplasia in over 10% of the infants studied, and cicatricial disease in about 4%. This was in spite of the finest care in the best neonatology units in the United States and Canada. In the United States approximately 30,000 to 40,000 infants experience the respiratory distress syndrome annually. Consequently, in the United States we would expect to see about 4,000 cases of active RLF annually. Approximately a third of these will progress to cicatricial disease; and 20% of those to severe cicatricial disease or 250 cases annually. As a point of reference there are only about 130 new cases annually of retinoblastoma in the United States. In conclusion, retrolental fibroplasia is still a significant cause of pathology in prematures with lasting effects that can cause a variety of ocular problems at any age. It is not an extinct disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)205-221
Number of pages17
JournalAnnals of Clinical Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1979

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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