Recurrent pterygium: A review

Leila Ghiasian, Bijan Samavat, Yasaman Hadi, Mona Arbab, Navid Abolfathzadeh

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Purpose: To summarize the recent evidence regarding different aspects of pterygium recurrence. Methods: Human-based studies from PubMed, Scopus, and Google Scholar were identified using the following keywords: conjunctival disease, pterygium, recurrent pterygium, pterygium recurrence, pterygium management/surgery, conjunctival autograft (CAU), amniotic membrane graft/transplant, and adjuvant therapy (January 2009 to February 2021). We reviewed risk factors associated with the recurrence of pterygium, timing of recurrence, medical treatments to prevent from recurrence, and nonsurgical and surgical alternatives for management of recurrence. Results: Dry eye disease, black race, and young age are considered definite risk factors for recurrence. However, fleshy appearance of the pterygium and preoperative size remain controversial. Surgical techniques such as excessive suturing, insufficient conjunctival graft size, thick conjunctival graft with remained Tenon tissue, and postoperative graft retraction are considered possible risk factors for recurrence. Using fibrin glue instead of sutures can further reduce recurrence rates. Although recurrence could occur even after many years, most recurrences happen in the first 3-6 months after surgery. Multiple kinds of adjuvant medications are used before, during, or after the operation including mitomycin C (MMC), 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), corticosteroids, and anti-vascular endothelial growth factors (anti-VEGFs). Multiple weekly subconjunctival 5-FU injections are shown to be safe and effective in halting the progression of recurrent pterygium. Although topical bevacizumab is found to inhibit the growth of impending recurrent pterygium, the effect is mostly temporary. CAU is superior to amniotic membrane transplantation in the treatment for recurrent pterygia. Conclusions: There is yet to be a panacea in treating recurrent pterygium. Currently, there is not a globally accepted recommendation for treating recurrent pterygium with anti-VEGFs or 5-FU as a nonsurgical treatment. We strongly recommend using MMC as an adjunct to surgery in recurrent cases, with consideration of its specific complications. CAU is the most effective surgical treatment for recurrent pterygium, and other new surgical therapies need further investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)367-378
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Current Ophthalmology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Adjuvant therapy
  • Amniotic membrane graft/transplant
  • Conjunctival autograft
  • Conjunctival disease
  • Pterygium
  • Pterygium management
  • Pterygium recurrence
  • Recurrent pterygium
  • Risk factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


Dive into the research topics of 'Recurrent pterygium: A review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this