Aetna considers laser trabeculoplasty or Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved aqueous drainage/shunt implants medically necessary for the treatment of members with refractory primary open-angle glaucoma when first-line drugs (e.g., latanoprost or timolol) and second-line drugs (e.g., brimonidine or dorzolamide) have failed to control intra-ocular pressure (IOP). Currently available implants include:
Ahmed glaucoma implant
Ex-PRESS mini glaucoma shunt
Glaucoma pressure regulator
Krupin-Denver valve implant
Aetna considers transciliary filtration (Fugo Blade transciliary filtration, Singh filtration) experimental and investigational for the treatment of glaucoma or any other indications because its effectiveness has not been established.
Aetna considers suprachoroidal drainage of aqueous humor (suprachoroidal shunt), anterior segment aqueous drainage devices without extra-ocular reservoir inserted by an internal approach, and other shunts (e.g., the SOLX gold shunt) that have not been approved by the FDA as experimental and investigational for the treatment of glaucoma because their effectiveness has not been established.
Aetna consideers iStent Trabecular Micro-Bypass Stent System medically necessary for the treatment of adults with mild or moderate open-angle glaucoma and a cataract when medication therapies have failed to control IOP.
Aetna considers adjunctive use of anti-fibrotic agents (e.g., mitomycin C) or systemic corticosteroids has no proven value with aqueous drainage/shunt implants, and thus the adjunctive use of these agents is considered experimental and investigational.
Aetna considers beta radiation experimental and investigational for the treatment of glaucoma because its effectiveness has not been established.
Glaucoma is associated with increased intra-ocular pressure (IOP). The majority (about 90 %) of patients with glaucoma have primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) that is defined as a chronic condition in which the IOP is elevated beyond a level compatible with the continued health and function of the eye, with a gonioscopically open angle, and a decreased facility of outflow. It is a slow progressive, insidious optic neuropathy. Primary open-angle glaucoma is also known as chronic open-angle glaucoma and chronic simple glaucoma. Another form of glaucoma is acute angle-closure glaucoma (AACG), which occurs as a dramatic, violent attack with closure of the entire angle. In contrast to POAG, AACG manifests with symptoms of blurred vision with colored halos around lights, pain, redness, and often nausea and vomiting related to the pain. In AACG, the IOP can rise precipitously to more than 50 mm Hg.
Acute angle-closure glaucoma is treated with oral or intravenous carbonic anhydrase inhibitors (e.g., acetazolamide), topical beta-blockers (e.g. timolol), and miotics (e.g., pilocarpine) to induce miosis. If pharmacotherapies fail, laser iridotomy can be performed to create an opening in the peripheral iris to relieve pupillary block.
Primary open-angle glaucoma is usually treated with ophthalmic medications. The first-line drugs include timolol (a non-specific beta blocker) and latanoprost (a prostaglandin F2a agonist). The second-line drugs entail brimonidine (an alpha agonist) and dorzolamide (a topical carbonic anhydrase inhibitor). The third-line drugs include apraclonidine (an alpha agonist), pilocarpine (a cholinergic agonist), acetazolamide (an oral carbonic anhydrase inhibitor), and epinephrine (a non-specific adrenergic agonist). In a randomized controlled study, Doi et al (2005) concluded that the combination of bimatoprost and latanoprost in POAG increases IOP and should not be considered as a therapeutic option. An alternative to pharmacotherapies for the treatment of POAG is argon laser trabeculoplasty. Although this procedure is frequently used and well- tolerated, there are some concerns regarding its long-term effectiveness.
When medications and/or laser trabeculoplasty have failed to reduce IOP, the most commonly used surgical intervention for POAG in adults is known as a filtering procedure. In general, there are 4 techniques for filtering surgery: (i) full-thickness fistulas (e.g., thermal sclerostomy), (ii) partial-thickness fistulas (e.g., trabeculectomy), (iii) tubes and setons (e.g., Molteno implant, Krupin-Denver valve implant, or Ahmed glaucoma implant), and (iv) cyclodestructive procedures (e.g., cyclophotocoagulation or cyclocryotherapy).
Molteno implant, Krupin-Denver valve implant, Ahmed glaucoma implant, Baerveldt seton, Schocket shunt, and Glaucoma pressure regulator are examples of aqueous drainage/shunt devices implanted to reduce IOP in the anterior chamber of the eye. The basic design of these devices is similar -- a silicone tube shunts aqueous humor from the anterior chamber to a fibrous capsule surrounding a synthetic plate or band positioned at the equatorial region of the globe. The capsule serves as a reservoir for aqueous drainage. Many studies have demonstrated that these devices are comparable and are effective in treating patients with POAG.
Guidelines from the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO, 2003) stated that “[t]he use of drainage devices (such as those described by Molteno, Ahmed, Krupin, Baerveldt, and others) is generally reserved for patients who have failed filtering surgery with antimetabolites or for patients whose conjunctiva is so scarred from previous surgery that filtering surgery with antimetabolites is at high risk for failure.”
Optinol (Kansas City, KS) introduced the Ex-PRESS mini glaucoma shunt in an attempt to simplify the glaucoma drainage device implantation. This device is a single-piece, stainless steel, translimbal implant that is placed using an inserter. Although its ease of implantation is greatly desired, its long-term efficacy and risk of complications have yet to be determined. The Ex-PRESS mini glaucoma shunt is a 400-micron diameter tube made from implantable stainless steel that is less than 3 mm long, and is loaded on a specially designed disposable inserter. The device reduces IOP by diverting excess aqueous humor from the anterior chamber to a subconjunctival bleb. The Ex-PRESS shunt has an advantage over conventional filtering surgery in that it is minimally invasive. Originally, the Ex-PRESS was designed for a direct limbus insertion through the irido-corneal angle under a conjuctival flap to drain aqueous from the anterior chamber to the subconjuctival space. However, because of long-term complications, including conjunctival erosions, hypotony, tube dislocation, conjuctival scarring or fibrosis within the tube, the device was re-designed. The new device is inserted via an external approach in the superficial scleral flap through the trabeculum into the anterior chamber.
In a multi-center study evaluating the safety and effectiveness of the Ex-PRESS R-50 mini glaucoma shunt, researchers found the device effective in reducing IOP. The success rate of the Ex-PRESS in lowering IOP to less than 21 mm Hg was 69 % after 1 year without medications. This represented a 30 to 40 % IOP reduction. The overall average number of glaucoma medications dropped significantly from 1.65 to 0.38 at 1 year (Optonol, Inc., 2002).
In a retrospective comparative series of 100 eyes, Maris et al (2007) compared the Ex-PRESS mini implant (Model R 50) placed under a partial-thickness scleral flap with standard trabeculectomy. Success was defined as IOP greater than or equal to 5 mm Hg and less than or equal to 21 mm Hg, with or without glaucoma medications, without further glaucoma surgery or removal of implant. Early post-operative hypotony was defined as IOP less than 5 mm Hg during the first post-operative week. The average follow-up was 10.8 months (range of 3.5 to 18) for the Ex-PRESS group and 11.2 months (range of 3 to 15) for the trabeculectomy group. Although the mean IOP was significantly higher in the early post-operative period in the Ex-PRESS group compared with the trabeculectomy group, the reduction of IOP was similar in both groups after 3 months. The number of post-operative glaucoma medications in both groups was not significantly different. Kaplan-Meier survival curve analysis showed no significant difference in the success between the 2 groups (p = 0.594). Early post-operative hypotony and choroidal effusion were significantly more frequent after trabeculectomy compared with the Ex-PRESS implant under scleral flap (p < 0.001). The authors concluded that the Ex-PRESS implant under a scleral flap had similar IOP lowering efficacy with a lower rate of early hypotony compared with trabeculectomy.
Transciliary filtration (TCF) (Singh filtration, Fugo Blade transciliary filtration) is a procedure developed by Daljit Singh, M.D., Amistar, India for advanced glaucoma cases in which conventional surgery has failed or is most likely to fail. Transciliary filtration creates an opening in the region of the pars plana of the ciliary body, the least vascularized part of the uveal tract and very close to the site of aqueous formation. An opening in this region provides almost direct passage outwards without risking uveal tissue prolapse. Currently, the literature is limited to case series reports by the same author on the technical feasibility of the procedure (Singh et al, 1979, 1981, 2002). Singh and Singh (2002) described the procedure using a new thermo-cauterization device called the Fugo Blade™ (plasma blade) (Medisurg Ltd., Norristown, PA). The Fugo Blade, which is also used in anterior capsulotomies, received 510(k) marketing clearance from the FDA for sclerostomy in the treatment of POAG where maximum tolerated medical therapy and trabeculoplasty have failed. However, the manufacturer was not required to submit to the FDA the evidence of efficacy that is necessary to support a premarket approval application (PMA). The Fugo Blade utilizes plasma energy surrounding a thin, blunt ablation filament about as thick as a human hair to dissolve tissue bonds. The blade generates a cloud of plasma, which produces a microablation path comparable to the effect of a miniature excimer laser. The proposed benefit of the Fugo Blade is that there is very little bleeding, and compared with traditional trabeculectomy, Fugo Blade TCF is quicker to perform and eliminates the risk of anterior chamber collapse, since aqueous fluid drains from behind rather than from in front of the iris. However, at the present time, there is insufficient evidence in the peer-reviewed medical literature on the TCF procedure. Randomized controlled studies are needed to determine whether TCF is an effective procedure for glaucoma compared to other traditional forms of filtering techniques, and which glaucoma patients, if any, would benefit.
An AAO's technology assessment on "Novel glaucoma procedures" (Francis et al, 2011) noted that the disadvantages of FUGO Blade TCF are that it is an external filtration procedure with bleb formation, risk of over-filtration, and hypotony.
Stein and Challa (2007) stated that laser trabeculoplasty has been reported to be an effective method to lower IOP in patients with primary or secondary OAG, both as an initial therapy or in conjunction with hypotensive medications. These investigators described the proposed mechanisms of action of argon laser trabeculoplasty and selective laser trabeculoplasty, as well as reviewed current studies of the therapeutic effect of these interventions. The exact mechanisms by which argon laser and selective laser trabeculoplasty lower IOP are unclear; the authors discussed the 3 most common theories: (i) the mechanical theory, (ii) the cellular (biologic) theory, and (iii) the cell division theory. Since both lasers are applied to the same tissue and produce similar results, they most likely produce their effects in comparable ways. These researchers also described the results of several studies comparing these devices. Most show them to be equally effective at lowering IOP; however, there are a few circumstances when selective laser trabeculoplasty may be a better option than argon laser trabeculoplasty. The authors concluded that argon laser and selective laser trabeculoplasty are safe and effective procedures for lowering IOP. They noted that results of ongoing clinical trials will help further define their role in the management of patients with OAG.
The American Optometric Association's guideline on care of the patient with OAG (AOA, 2002; reviewed 2007) listed argon laser trabeculoplasty as an alternative to drug therapy for the management of patients with POAG. The Singapore Ministry of Health's guideline on glaucoma stated that laser trabeculoplasty may be used as an adjunct to medical therapy. Furthermore, the AAO's guideline on POAG (2005) stated that laser trabeculoplasty is an appropriate initial therapeutic alternative (e.g., patients with memory problems or are intolerant to the medication).
In a report on aqueous shunts in glaucoma by the AAO, Minckler et al (2008) provided an evidence-based summary of commercially available aqueous shunts currently used in substantial numbers (Ahmed [New World Medical, Inc., Rancho Cucamonga, CA], Baerveldt [Advanced Medical Optics, Inc., Santa Ana, CA], Krupin [Eagle Vision, Inc, Memphis, TN], Molteno [Molteno Ophthalmic Ltd., Dunedin, New Zealand]) to control IOP in various glaucomas. A total of 17 previously published randomized trials, 1 prospective non-randomized comparative trial, 1 retrospective case-control study, 2 comprehensive literature reviews, and published English language, non-comparative case series and case reports were reviewed and graded for methodologic quality. Aqueous shunts are used primarily after failure of medical, laser, and conventional filtering surgery to treat glaucoma and have been successful in controlling IOP in a variety of glaucomas. The principal long-term complication of anterior chamber tubes is corneal endothelial failure. The most shunt-specific delayed complication is erosion of the tube through overlying conjunctiva. There is a low incidence of this occurring with all shunts currently available, and it occurs most frequently within a few millimeters of the corneo-scleral junction after anterior chamber insertion. Erosion of the equatorial plate through the conjunctival surface occurs less frequently. Clinical failure of the various devices over time occurs at a rate of approximately 10 % per year, which is approximately the same as the failure rate for trabeculectomy. The authors concluded that based on level I evidence, aqueous shunts seem to have benefits (IOP control, duration of benefit) comparable with those of trabeculectomy in the management of complex glaucomas (phakic or pseudophakic eyes after prior failed trabeculectomies). Level I evidence indicates that there are no advantages to the adjunctive use of anti-fibrotic agents or systemic corticosteroids with currently available shunts. Too few high-quality direct comparisons of various available shunts have been published to assess the relative efficacy or complication rates of specific devices beyond the implication that larger-surface-area explants provide more enduring and better IOP control. Long-term follow-up and comparative studies are encouraged.
Filippopoulos and Rhee (2008) reviewed recent advances in penetrating glaucoma surgery with particular attention paid to 2 novel surgical approaches: (i) ab interno trabeculectomy with the Trabectome, and (ii) implantation of the Ex-PRESS shunt. Ab interno trabeculectomy (Trabectome) achieves a sustained 30 % reduction in IOP by focally ablating and cauterizing the trabecular meshwork/inner wall of Schlemm's canal. It has a remarkable safety profile with respect to early hypotonous or infectious complications as it does not generate a bleb, but it can be associated with early post-operative IOP spikes that may necessitate additional glaucoma surgery. The Ex-PRESS shunt is more commonly implanted under a partial thickness scleral flap, and appears to have similar efficacy to standard trabeculectomy offering some advantages with respect to the rate of early complications related to hypotony. The authors concluded that penetrating glaucoma surgery will continue to evolve. The findings of randomized clinical trials will determine the exact role of these surgical techniques in the glaucoma surgical armamentarium.
In a review on the use of novel devices for control of IOP, Minckler and Hill (2009) noted that Trabectome, Glaukos iStent, iScience (canaloplasty), and SOLX (suprachoroidal shunt) are newly developed surgical technologies for the treatment of OAG. These new approaches to angle surgery have been demonstrated in preliminary case series to safely lower IOP in the mid-teens with far fewer complications than expected with trabeculectomy and without anti-fibrotics. Trabectome and iStent are relatively non-invasive, aim to improve access of aqueous to collector channels and do not preclude subsequent standard surgery. SOLX potentially offers an adjustable aqueous outflow from the anterior chamber into the suprachoroidal space.
In a Cochrane review, Kirwan and colleagues (2009) evaluated the effectiveness of beta radiation during glaucoma surgery (trabeculectomy). These investigators searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) in The Cochrane Library (which includes the Cochrane Eyes and Vision Group Trials Register) (Issue 4 2008), MEDLINE (January 1966 to October 2008) and EMBASE (January 1980 to October 2008). The databases were last searched on 24 October 2008. They included randomized controlled trials comparing trabeculectomy with beta radiation to trabeculectomy without beta radiation. Data on surgical failure (IOP greater than 21 mm Hg), IOP, and adverse effects of glaucoma surgery were collected. Data were pooled using a fixed-effect model. These researchers found 4 trials that randomized 551 people to trabeculectomy with beta irradiation versus trabeculectomy alone -- 2 studies were in Caucasian people (n = 126), 1 study in black African people (n = 320), and 1 study in Chinese people (n = 105). People who had trabeculectomy with beta irradiation had a lower risk of surgical failure compared to people who had trabeculectomy alone (pooled risk ratio (RR) 0.23 (95 % CI: 0.14 to 0.40). Beta irradiation was associated with an increased risk of cataract (RR 2.89, 95 % CI: 1.39 to 6.0). The authors concluded that trabeculectomy with beta irradiation has a lower risk of surgical failure compared to trabeculectomy alone. They stated that a trial of beta irradiation versus anti-metabolite is needed.
An AAO's technology assessment on "Novel glaucoma procedures" (Francis et al, 2011) noted that the SOLX gold shunt is limited to investigational use in the U.S. The disadvantages of the SOLX gold shunt are the presence of a permanent implant in the anterior chamber and suprachoroidal space with the risk of erosion or exposure, and that the mechanism of action is not well-delineated. The assessment also stated that randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are needed to ascertain the effectiveness of procedures (including FUGO Blade goniotomy, iStent, and the SOLX gold shunt) compared with trabeculectomy, with one another, and with phacoemulsification alone (in the case of combined procedures).
Current guidelines (AAO, 2010) describe the indication for laser peripheral iridoplasty in the treatment of acute angle closure crisis (AACC) when laser iridotomy is not possible or if the AACC cannot be medically broken.
However, there is insufficient evidence for the use of laser peripheral iridoplasty in the nonacute setting. In a Cochrane review, Ng and colleagues (2012) evaluated the effectiveness of laser peripheral iridoplasty in the treatment of narrow angles (i.e., primary angle-closure suspect), primary angle-closure (PAC) or primary angle-closure glaucoma (PACG) in non-acute situations when compared with any other intervention. In this review, angle-closure will refer to patients with narrow angles (PACs), PAC and PACG. These investigators searched CENTRAL (which contains the Cochrane Eyes and Vision Group Trials Register) (The Cochrane Library 2011, Issue 12), MEDLINE (January 1950 to January 2012), EMBASE (January 1980 to January 2012), Latin American and Caribbean Literature on Health Sciences (LILACS) (January 1982 to January 2012), the metaRegister of Controlled Trials (mRCT) (www.controlled-trials.com), ClinicalTrials.gov (www.clinicaltrials.gov) and the WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP) (www.who.int/ictrp/search/en). There were no date or language restrictions in the electronic searches for trials. The electronic databases were last searched on January 5, 2012. These researchers included only RCTs in this review. Patients with narrow angles, PAC or PACG were eligible. They excluded studies that included only patients with acute presentations, using laser peripheral iridoplasty to break acute crisis. No analysis was carried out as only 1 trial (n = 158) was included in the review. The trial reported laser peripheral iridoplasty as an adjunct to laser peripheral iridotomy compared to iridotomy alone. The study reported no superiority in using iridoplasty as an adjunct to iridotomy for IOP, number of medications or need for surgery. The authors concluded that there is currently no strong evidence for laser peripheral iridoplasty's use in treating angle-closure.
On behalf of the AAO, Francis and cooleagues (2011) reviewed the published literature and summarized clinically relevant information about novel, or emerging, surgical techniques for the treatment of open-angle glaucoma and described the devices and procedures in proper context of the appropriate patient population, theoretic effects, advantages, and disadvantages. Devices and procedures that have FDA clearance or are currently in phase III clinical trials in the United States were included: the Fugo blade (Medisurg Ltd., Norristown, PA), Ex-PRESS mini glaucoma shunt (Alcon, Inc., Hunenberg, Switzerland), SOLX Gold Shunt (SOLX Ltd., Boston, MA), excimer laser trabeculotomy (AIDA, Glautec AG, Nurnberg, Germany), canaloplasty (iScience Interventional Corp., Menlo Park, CA), trabeculotomy by internal approach (Trabectome, NeoMedix, Inc., Tustin, CA), and trabecular micro-bypass stent (iStent, Glaukos Corporation, Laguna Hills, CA). Literature searches of the PubMed and the Cochrane Library databases were conducted up to October 2009 with no date or language restrictions. These searches retrieved 192 citations, of which 23 were deemed topically relevant and rated for quality of evidence by the panel methodologist. All studies but 1, which was rated as level II evidence, were rated as level III evidence. All of the devices studied showed a statistically significant reduction in IOP and, in some cases, glaucoma medication use. The success and failure definitions varied among studies, as did the calculated rates. Various types and rates of complications were reported depending on the surgical technique. On the basis of the review of the literature and mechanism of action, the authors also summarized theoretic advantages and disadvantages of each surgery. The authors concluded that the novel glaucoma surgeries studied all show some promise as alternative treatments to lower IOP in the treatment of open-angle glaucoma. It is not possible to conclude whether these novel procedures are superior, equal to, or inferior to surgery such as trabeculectomy or to one another. The studies provide the basis for future comparative or randomized trials of existing glaucoma surgical techniques and other novel procedures.
The iStent, an anterior segment aqueous drainage device, is a small (approximately 1 mm by 0.5 mm) L-shaped titanium device that is inserted into the trabecular meshwork through the cornea and is designed to create a bypass between the anterior chamber and Schlemm's canal for aqueous humor to flow directly into the canal toward the episcleral drainage system.
In a prospective, non-randomized, interventional case-series study, Buchacra et al (2011) evaluated the mid-term safety and effectiveness of the iStent glaucoma device in patients with secondary open-angle glaucoma. A total of 10 patients with secondary open-angle glaucoma (traumatic, steroid, pseudoexfoliative, and pigmentary glaucoma) of recent onset who underwent ab interno implantation iStent were included in this analysis. Patients were assessed following the procedure on days 1, 7, and 15 and months 1, 3, 6, and 12, and examinations included visual acuity, IOP measurement using Goldmann tonometry, number of glaucoma medications, and complications. Wilcoxon rank-test for data with abnormal distribution was used for the analysis of IOP and glaucoma medications at baseline versus 3, 6, and 12 months following the procedure. The mean baseline IOP was 26.5 ± 7.9 (range of 18 to 40) mm Hg, and significantly decreased in 10.4 ± 9.2 mm Hg at 3 months (p < 0.05), in 7.4 ± 4.9 mm Hg at 6 months (p < 0.05), and in 6.6 ± 5.4 mm Hg at 12 months (p < 0.05) following iStent implantation. The mean number of hypotensive medications at baseline was 2.9 ± 0.7 (range of 2 to 4). Statistically significant reductions in the number of medications of 1.1 ± 1.1 were observed at 3 months (p < 0.05), 1.0 ± 0.7 at 6 months (p < 0.05), and 1.1 ± 0.6 at 12 months (p < 0.05). No significant changes in visual acuity were noted. The most common complications comprised mild hyphema in 7 eyes and transient IOP greater than or equal to 30 mm Hg in 3 eyes on post-operative day 1. Obstruction of the lumen of the stent with a blood clot was seen in 3 eyes, and all instances resolved spontaneously. The authors concluded that the iStent is a safe and effective treatment option in patients with secondary open-angle glaucoma, and reduces the topical treatment burden in one hypotensive medication.
Francis and Winarko (2012) stated that in POAG, the site of greatest resistance to aqueous outflow is thought to be the trabecular meshwork. Augmentation of the conventional (trabecular) outflow pathway would facilitate physiologic outflow and subsequently lower IOP. Ab interno Schlemm's canal surgery including 2 novel surgical modalities, Trabectome (trabeculotomy internal approach) and Trabecular Micro-bypass Stent (iStent), is designed to reduce IOP by this approach. In contrast to external filtration surgeries such as trabeculectomy and aqueous tube shunt, these procedures are categorized as internal filtration surgeries and are both performed from an internal approach via gonioscopic guidance. Published results suggest that these surgical procedures are both safe and efficacious for the treatment of open-angle glaucoma.
Augustinus and Zeyen (2012) reviewed the different aspects that influence the choice and sequence of surgical treatment in patients with co-existing open-angle glaucoma and cataract. The effect of phaco-emulsification on IOP and on a pre-existing bleb was discussed and phaco-trabeculectomy and trabeculectomy were compared. Moreover, the most recent surgical pressure lowering techniques in combination with phaco-emulsification were reviewed: iStent, Trabectome, Hydrus, Cypass and Canaloplasty. Medline database was used to search for relevant, recent articles. The authors concluded that a sustained IOP decrease of 1.5 mm Hg can be expected after a phaco-emulsification in patients with open-angle glaucoma. The higher the pre-operative pressure, the greater the IOP lowering will be. A phaco-emulsification on a trabeculectomized eye will often lead to reduced bleb function and an IOP rise of on average 2 mm Hg after 12 months. Compared to a trabeculectomy, phaco-trabeculectomy will have a less IOP lowering effect and a higher complication rate. iStent and Trabectome combined with phaco-emulsification can decrease the IOP with 3 to 5 mm Hg, with a low complication rate. The combination of Cypass and Hydrus with phaco-surgery may have a more significant IOP lowering effect but long-term results are not yet published. Combining Canaloplasty with phaco-emulsification is a more challenging surgery but if a tension suture can be placed, an IOP decrease around 10 mm Hg might be expected.
Saheb and Ahmed (2012) noted that there is an increasing interest and availability of micro-invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS) procedures. It is important that this increase is supported by sound, peer-reviewed evidence. These researchers defined MIGS, reviewed relevant publications in the period of annual review and discussed future directions. The results of the pivotal trial comparing iStent combined with phaco-emulsification to phacoemulsification alone showed a significantly higher percentage of patients with unmedicated IOP of less than or equal to 21 mm Hg, and a comparable safety profile. Initial results were published regarding a second-generation micro-bypass stent (iStent inject, Glaukos Corporation, Laguna Hills, CA), a canalicular scaffold (Hydrus, Ivantis Inc., Irvine, CA) and an ab interno suprachoroidal micro-stent (CyPass, Transcend Medical, Menlo Park, CA), showing a decrease in mean post-operative IOP. Phaco-Trabectome (Ab interno trabeculectomy Trabectome, NeoMedix Inc., Tustin, CA) was compared to phaco-trabeculectomy and showed less IOP reduction, less post-operative complications, and a similar success rate. Similar success rates were found with the comparison of excimer laser trabeculostomy (ELT, AIDA, Glautec AG, Nurnberg, Germany) and selective laser trabeculoplasty. A number of publications reviewed the importance of the location of implantable devices, intra-operative gonioscopy, cost-effectiveness and quality-of-life studies, and randomized clinical trials. The authors concluded that MIGS procedures offer reduction in IOP, decrease in dependence on glaucoma medications and an excellent safety profile. Their role within the glaucoma treatment algorithm continues to be clarified and differs from the role of more invasive glaucoma surgeries such as trabeculectomy or glaucoma drainage devices.
In a prospective, non-comparative, uncontrolled, non-randomized, interventional case series study, Arriola-Villalobos and associates (2012) evaluated the long-term safety and effectiveness of combined cataract surgery and Glaukos iStent implantation for co-existent open-angle glaucoma and cataract. Subjects older than 18 years with co-existent uncontrolled mild or moderate open-angle glaucoma (including pseudoexfoliative and pigmentary) and cataract underwent phaco-emulsification and intra-ocular lens implantation along with ab-interno gonioscopically guided implantation of 1 Glaukos iStent. The variables recorded during a minimum of 3 years of follow-up were: IOP, number of anti-glaucoma medications and best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA). The 19 patients enrolled were 58 to 88 years old (mean age of 74.6 ± 8.44 years). Mean follow-up was 53.68 ± 9.26 months. Mean IOP was reduced from 19.42 ± 1.89 mm Hg to 16.26 ± 4.23 mm Hg (p = 0.002) at the end of follow-up, indicating a 16.33 % decrease in IOP. The mean number of pressure-lowering medications used by the patients fell from 1.32 ± 0.48 to 0.84 ± 0.89 (p = 0.046). In 42 % of patients, no anti-glaucoma medications were used at the end of follow-up. Mean BCVA significantly improved from 0.29 ± 0.13 to 0.62 ± 0.3 (p < 0.001). No complications of surgery were observed. The authors concluded that combined cataract surgery and Glaukos iStent implantation seems to be an effective and safe procedure to treat co-existent open-angle glaucoma and cataract.
In a prospective randomized controlled multi-center (29 sites) clinical trial, Craven et al (2012) evaluated the long-term safety and effectiveness of a single trabecular micro-bypass stent with concomitant cataract surgery versus cataract surgery alone for mild-to-moderate open-angle glaucoma. Eyes with mild-to-moderate glaucoma with an unmedicated IOP of 22 mm Hg or higher and 36 mm Hg or lower were randomly assigned to have cataract surgery with iStent trabecular micro-bypass stent implantation (stent group) or cataract surgery alone (control group). Patients were followed for 24 months post-operatively. The incidence of adverse events was low in both groups through 24 months of follow-up. At 24 months, the proportion of patients with an IOP of 21 mm Hg or lower without ocular hypotensive medications was significantly higher in the stent group than in the control group (p = 0.036). Overall, the mean IOP was stable between 12 months and 24 months (17.0 mm Hg ± 2.8 [SD] and 17.1 ± 2.9 mm Hg, respectively) in the stent group but increased (17.0 ± 3.1 mm Hg to 17.8 ± 3.3 mm Hg, respectively) in the control group. Ocular hypotensive medication was statistically significantly lower in the stent group at 12 months; it was also lower at 24 months, although the difference was no longer statistically significant. The authors concluded that patients with combined single trabecular micro-bypass stent and cataract surgery had significantly better IOP control on no medication through 24 months than patients having cataract surgery alone. Both groups had a similar favorable long-term safety profile.
On June 25, 2012, the FDA approved the iStent Trabecular Micro-Bypass Stent System, Model GTS100R/L. This is the first device approved for use in combination with cataract surgery to reduce IOP in adult patients with mild or moderate open-angle glaucoma and a cataract who are currently being treated with medication to reduce IOP.
CPT Codes / HCPCS Codes / ICD-9 Codes
CPT codes covered if selection criteria are met:
CPT codes not covered for indications listed in the CPB:
Other CPT codes related to the CPB:
HCPCS codes covered if selection criteria are met:
Aqueous shunt [covered if FDA approved]
HCPCS codes not covered for indications listed in the CPB:
Injection, betamethasone acetate and betamethasone sodium phosphate, per 3 mg
Injection, methylprednisolone acetate, 20 mg
Injection, methylprednisolone acetate, 40 mg
Injection, methylprednisolone acetate, 80 mg
Injection, dexamethasone acetate, 1 mg
Injection, dexamethasone sodium phosphate, 1mg
Injection, hydrocortisone acetate, up to 25 mg (i. e., Hydrocortone acetate)
Injection, hydrocortisone sodium phosphate, up to 50 mg (i.e., Hydrocortone phosphate)
Injection, hydrocortisone sodium succinate, up to 100 mg (i.e., Solu-Cortef)
Injection, prednisolone acetate, up to 1 ml (i.e., Key-Pred 25, Key-Pred 50, Predcor-25, Predcor-50, Predoject 50, Predalone-50, Predicort-50)
Injection, methylprednisolone sodium succinate, up to 40 mg (i.e., Solu-Medrol)
Injection, methylprednisolone sodium succinate, up to 125 mg (i.e., Solu-Medrol)
Injection, triamcinolone acetonide, not otherwise specified, per 10 mg (i.e., Kenalog)
Injection, triamcinolone diacetate, per 5 mg (i.e., Aristocort)
Injection, triamcinolone hexacetonide, per 5 mg (i.e., Aristospan)
Mitomycin, opthalmic, 0. 2 mg
Prednisone, oral, per 5 mg
Methylprednisolone, oral, per 4 mg
Prednisolone, oral, per 5 mg
Dexamethasone, oral, 0.25 mg
Injection, Mitomycin, 5 mg
Other HCPCS codes related to the CPB:
Injection, adrenaline, epinephrine, 0.1 mg
Injection, acetazolamide sodium, up to 500 mg
ICD-9 codes covered if selection criteria are met:
743.30 - 743.39
Congenital cataract and lens anomalies
iStent Trabecular Micro-Bypass Stent System:
CPT codes covered if selection criteria are met:
Insertion of anterior segment aqueous drainage device, without extraocular reservoir; internal approach, into the trabecular network
ICD-9 codes covered if selection criteria are met:
Primary open-angle glaucoma [must be reported with a code from 366.0-366.9]
366.0 - 366.9
Cataract [must be reported with 365.11]
Beta radiation for glaucoma:
CPT codes not covered for indications listed in the CPB:
77401 - 77421
ICD-9 codes not covered for indications listed in the CPB:
365.00 - 365.9
743.20 - 743.22
The above policy is based on the following references:
Topouzis F, Coleman AL, Choplin N, et al. Follow-up of the original cohort with the Ahmed glaucoma valve implant. Am J Ophthalmol. 1999;128(2):198-204.
Bryant J. Laser trabeculoplasty as primary therapy for glaucoma. DEC Report No. 62. Southampton, UK: Wessex Institute for Health Research and Development (WIHRD); 1996.
Englert JA, Freedman SF, Cox TA. The Ahmed valve in refractory pediatric glaucoma. Am J Ophthalmol. 1999;127(1):34-42.
Huang MC, Netland PA, Coleman AL, et al. Intermediate-term clinical experience with the Ahmed Glaucoma Valve implant. Am J Ophthalmol. 1999;127(1):27-33.
Ayyala RS, Zurakowski D, Smith JA, et al. A clinical study of the Ahmed Glaucoma Valve implant in advanced glaucoma. Ophthalmology. 1998;105(10):1968-1976.
Aung T, Seah SK. Glaucoma drainage implants in Asian eyes. Ophthalmology. 1998;105(11):2117-2122.
Valimaki J, Tuulonen A, Airaksinen PJ. Outcome of Molteno implantation surgery in refractory glaucoma and the effect of total and partial tube ligation on the success rate. Acta Ophthalmol Scand. 1998;76(2):213-219.
Smith MF, Doyle JW, Fanous MM. Modified aqueous drainage implants in the treatment of complicated glaucomas in eyes with pre-existing episcleral bands. Ophthalmology. 1998;105(12):2237-2242.
White TC. Aqueous shunt implant surgery for refractory glaucoma. J Ophthalmic Nurs Technol. 1996;15(1):7-13.
Price FW Jr., Wellemeyer M. Long-term results of Molteno implants. Ophthalmic Surg. 1995;26(2):130-135.
Thomas R, Gieser SC, Billson F. Molteno implant surgery for advanced glaucoma. Aust N Z J Ophthalmol. 1995;23(1):9-15.
Kim DM, Lim KH. Aqueous shunts: Single-plate Molteno vs ACTSEB. Acta Ophthalmol Scand. 1995;73(3):277-280.
Smith MF, Doyle JW, Sherwood MB. Comparison of the Baerveldt glaucoma implant with the double-plate Molteno drainage implant. Arch Ophthalmol. 1995;113(4):444-447.
Wilson RP, Cantor L, Katz LJ, et al. Aqueous shunts. Molteno versus Schocket. Ophthalmology. 1992;99(5):672-676; discussion 676-678.
Melamed S, Fiore PM. Molteno implant surgery in refractory glaucoma. Surv Ophthalmol. 1990;34(6):441-448.
Krishna R, Godfrey DG, Budenz DL, et al. Intermediate-term outcomes of 350-mm(2) Baerveldt glaucoma implants. Ophthalmology. 2001;108(3):621-626.
Fuller JR, Bevin TH, Molteno AC. Long-term follow-up of traumatic glaucoma treated with Molteno implants. Ophthalmology. 2001;108(10):1796-1800.
Ceballos EM, Parrish RK 2nd, Schiffman JC. Outcome of Baerveldt glaucoma drainage implants for the treatment of uveitic glaucoma. Ophthalmology. 2002;109(12):2256-2260.
Ayyala RS, Zurakowski D, Monshizadeh R, et al. Comparison of double-plate Molteno and Ahmed glaucoma valve in patients with advanced uncontrolled glaucoma. Ophthalmic Surg Lasers. 2002;33(2):94-101.
Doi LM, Melo LA Jr, Prata JA Jr. Effects of the combination of bimatoprost and latanoprost on intraocular pressure in primary open angle glaucoma: A randomised clinical trial. Br J Ophthalmol. 2005;89(5):547-549.
Singh D, Verma A, Singh M. Transciliary filtration for intractable glaucoma. Trans Ophthalmol. Soc U K. 1979;99(1):92-95.
Singh D, Verma A, Singh M. Transciliary filtration for intractable glaucoma. Indian J Ophthalmol. 1981;29(3):157-160.
Singh D, Singh, K. Transciliary filtration using the fugo blade. Ann Ophthalmol. 2002;34(3):183-187.
Hong CH, Arosemena A, Zurakowski D, Ayyala RS. Glaucoma drainage devices: A systematic literature review and current controversies. Surv Ophthalmol. 2005;50(1):48-60.
Burr J, Azuara-Blanco A, Avenell A. Medical versus surgical interventions for open angle glaucoma. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2004;(2):CD004399.
Ishida K, Mandal AK, Netland PA. Glaucoma drainage implants in pediatric patients. Ophthalmol Clin North Am. 2005;18(3):431-442, vii.
Minckler DS, Vedula SS, Li TJ, et al. Aqueous shunts for glaucoma. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006;(2):CD004918.
Jordan JF, Engels BF, Dinslage S, et al. A novel approach to suprachoroidal drainage for the surgical treatment of intractable glaucoma. J Glaucoma. 2006;15(3):200-205.
Stein JD, Challa P. Mechanisms of action and efficacy of argon laser trabeculoplasty and selective laser trabeculoplasty. Curr Opin Ophthalmol. 2007;18(2):140-145.
American Optometric Association. Care of the patient with open angle glaucoma. 2nd ed. St. Louis, MO: American Optometric Association; August 17, 2002 (reviewed 2007).
Singapore Ministry of Health. Glaucoma. Guidelines. Singapore: Singapore Ministry of Health; October 2005.
American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO),Glaucoma Panel, Preferred Practice Patterns Committee. Primary open-angle glaucoma. Preferred Practice Pattern. San Francisco, CA: AAO; 2005.
Optonol Inc. The Ex-PRESS™ miniature glaucoma implant in combined surgery with cataract extraction: Prospective study. Publications & Presentations [website]. Kansas City, KS: Optonol; 2002. Available at:http://www.optonol.com. Accessed June 10, 2008.
Schwartz KS, Lee RK, Gedde SJ. Glaucoma drainage implants: A critical comparison of types. Curr Opin Ophthalmol. 2006;17(2):181-189.
Sarkisian SR Jr. Use of an injector for the Ex-PRESS Mini Glaucoma Shunt. Ophthalmic Surg Lasers Imaging. 2007;38(5):434-436.
Rivier D, Roy S, Mermoud A. Ex-PRESS R-50 miniature glaucoma implant insertion under the conjunctiva combined with cataract extraction. J Cataract Refract Surg. 2007;33(11):1946-1952.
Ayyala RS, Hong C. Glaucoma, drainage devices. eMedicine Ophthalmology Topic 754. Omaha, NE: eMedicine.com; updated October 31, 2005.
Minckler DS, Francis BA, Hodapp EA, et al. Aqueous shunts in glaucoma: A report by the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Ophthalmology. 2008;115(6):1089-1098.
Coupin A, Li Q, Riss I. [Ex-PRESS miniature glaucoma implant inserted under a scleral flap in open-angle glaucoma surgery: A retrospective study]. J Fr Ophtalmol. 200730(1):18-23.
Maris PJ Jr, Ishida K, Netland PA. Comparison of trabeculectomy with Ex-PRESS miniature glaucoma device implanted under scleral flap. J Glaucoma. 2007;16(1):14-19.
Stein JD, Herndon LW, Brent Bond J, et al. Exposure of Ex-PRESS miniature glaucoma devices: Case series and technique for tube shunt removal. J Glaucoma. 2007;16(8):704-706.
Spiegel D, Kobuch K. Trabecular meshwork bypass tube shunt: Initial case series. Br J Ophthalmol. 2002;86(11):1228-1231.
Zhou J, Smedley GT. Trabecular bypass: Effect of schlemm canal and collector channel dilation. J Glaucoma. 2006; 15(5):446-455.
Spiegel D, Wetzel W, Haffner DS, et al. Initial clinical experience with the trabecular micro-bypass stent in patients with glaucoma. Adv Ther. 2007; 24(1):161-170.
Minckler DS, Francis BA, Hodapp EA, et al. Aqueous shunts in glaucoma: A report by the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Ophthalmology. 2008;115(6):1089-1098.
Filippopoulos T, Rhee DJ. Novel surgical procedures in glaucoma: Advances in penetrating glaucoma surgery. Curr Opin Ophthalmol. 2008;19(2):149-154.
Minckler DS, Hill RA. Use of novel devices for control of intraocular pressure. Exp Eye Res. 2009;88(4):792-798.
Cheng JW, Wei RL, Cai JP, Li Y. Efficacy and tolerability of nonpenetrating filtering surgery with and without implant in treatment of open angle glaucoma: A quantitative evaluation of the evidence. J Glaucoma. 2009;18(3):233-237.
Kirwan JF, Rennie C, Evans JR. Beta radiation for glaucoma surgery. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009;(2):CD003433.
Uva MG, Longo A, Reibaldi M. Pneumatic trabeculoplasty versus argon laser trabeculoplasty in primary open-angle glaucoma. Ophthalmologica. 2010;224(1):10-15.
Mansouri K, Tran HV, Ravinet E, Mermoud A. Comparing deep sclerectomy with collagen implant to the new method of very deep sclerectomy with collagen implant: A single-masked randomized controlled trial. J Glaucoma. 2010;19(1):24-30.
Nassiri N, Kamali G, Rahnavardi M, et al. Ahmed glaucoma valve and single-plate Molteno implants in treatment of refractory glaucoma: A comparative study. Am J Ophthalmol. 2010;149(6):893-902.
Radcliffe NM, Musch DC, Niziol LM, et al; Collaborative Initial Glaucoma Treatment Study Group. The effect of trabeculectomy on intraocular pressure of the untreated fellow eye in the collaborative initial glaucoma treatment study. Ophthalmology. 2010;117(11):2055-2060.
Barton K, Gedde SJ, Budenz DL, et al; Ahmed Baerveldt Comparison Study Group. The Ahmed Baerveldt Comparison Study methodology, baseline patient characteristics, and intraoperative complications. Ophthalmology. 2011;118(3):435-442.
Budenz DL, Barton K, Feuer WJ, et al; Ahmed Baerveldt Comparison Study Group. Treatment outcomes in the Ahmed Baerveldt Comparison Study after 1 year of follow-up. Ophthalmology. 2011;118(3):443-452.
Tice J. Aqueous shunts for the treatment of glaucoma. Technology Assessment. San Francisco, CA: California Technology Assessment Forum (CTAF); June 29, 2011.
American Academy of Ophthalmology Glaucoma Panel. Primary angle closure. Preferred Practice Pattern. San Francisco, CA: American Academy of Ophthalmology; 2010.
Ke M, Guo J, Qian Z. Meta analysis of non-penetrating trabecular surgery versus trabeculectomy for the treatment of open angle glaucoma. J Huazhong Univ Sci Technolog Med Sci. 2011;31(2):264-270.
Samples JR, Singh K, Lin SC, et al. Laser trabeculoplasty for open-angle glaucoma: A report by the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Ophthalmology. 2011;118(11):2296-2302.
Francis BA, Singh K, Lin SC, et al. Novel glaucoma procedures: A report by the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Ophthalmology. 2011;118(7):1466-1480.
Jea SY, Francis BA, Vakili G, et al. Ab interno trabeculectomy versus trabeculectomy for open-angle glaucoma. Ophthalmology. 2012;119(1):36-42.
Ng WS, Ang GS, Azuara-Blanco A. Laser peripheral iridoplasty for angle-closure. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012;(2):CD006746.
Boland MV, Ervin AM, Friedman D, et al. Treatment for glaucoma: Comparative effectiveness. Comparative Effectiveness Review No. 60. Prepared by the Johns Hopkins University Evidence-based Practice Center for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) under Contract No. HHSA 290-2007-10061-I.
Francis BA, Singh K, Lin SC, et al. Novel glaucoma procedures: A report by the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Ophthalmology. 2011;118(7):1466-1480.
Buchacra O, Duch S, Milla E, Stirbu O. One-year analysis of the iStent trabecular microbypass in secondary glaucoma. Clin Ophthalmol. 2011;5:321-326.
Francis BA, Winarko J. Ab interno Schlemm's canal surgery: Trabectome and i-stent. Dev Ophthalmol. 2012;50:125-136.
Augustinus CJ, Zeyen T. The effect of phacoemulsification and combined phaco/glaucoma procedures on the intraocular pressure in open-angle glaucoma. A review of the literature. Bull Soc Belge Ophtalmol. 2012;(320):51-66.
Saheb H, Ahmed II. Micro-invasive glaucoma surgery: Current perspectives and future directions. Curr Opin Ophthalmol. 2012;23(2):96-104.
Arriola-Villalobos P, Martinez-de-la-Casa JM, Diaz-Valle D, et al. Combined iStent trabecular micro-bypass stent implantation and phacoemulsification for coexistent open-angle glaucoma and cataract: A long-term study. Br J Ophthalmol. 2012;96(5):645-649.
Craven ER, Katz LJ, Wells JM, Giamporcaro JE; iStent Study Group. Cataract surgery with trabecular micro-bypass stent implantation in patients with mild-to-moderate open-angle glaucoma and cataract: Two-year follow-up. J Cataract Refract Surg. 2012;38(8):1339-1345.
Copyright Aetna Inc. All rights reserved. Clinical Policy Bulletins are developed by Aetna to assist in administering plan benefits and constitute neither offers of coverage nor medical advice. This Clinical Policy Bulletin contains only a partial, general description of plan or program benefits and does not constitute a contract. Aetna does not provide health care services and, therefore, cannot guarantee any results or outcomes. Participating providers are independent contractors in private practice and are neither employees nor agents of Aetna or its affiliates. Treating providers are solely responsible for medical advice and treatment of members. This Clinical Policy Bulletin may be updated and therefore is subject to change.