Use of the Ishikawa diagram in a case-control analysis to assess the causes of a diffuse lamellar keratitis outbreak

ABSTRACT Purpose: To identify the causes of a diffuse lamellar keratitis (DLK) outbreak using a systematic search tool in a case-control analysis. Methods: An Ishikawa diagram was used to guide physicians to determine the potential risk factors involved in this outbreak. Coherence between the occurrences and each possible cause listed in the diagram was verified, and the total number of eyes at risk was used to calculate the proportion of affected eyes. Multivariate analysis was performed using logistic regression to determine the independent effect of the risk factors, after controlling for confounders and test interactions. Results: All DLK cases were reported in 2007 between June 13 and December 21; during this period, 3,698 procedures were performed. Of the 1,682 flap-related procedures, 204 eyes of 141 individuals presented with DLK. No direct relationship was observed between the occurrence of DLK and the presence of any specific factors; however, flap-lifting enhancements, procedures performed during the morning shift, and non-use of therapeutic contact lenses after the surgery were significantly related to higher occurrence percentages of this condition. Conclusions: The Ishikawa diagram, like most quality tools, is a visualization and knowledge organization tool. This systematization allowed the investigators to thoroughly assess all the possible causes of DLK outbreak. A clear view of the entire surgical logistics permitted even more rigid management of the main factors involved in the process and, as a result, highlighted factors that deserved attention. The case-control analysis on every factor raised by the Ishikawa diagram indicated that the commonly suspected factors such as biofilm contamination of the water reservoir in autoclaves, the air-conditioning filter system, glove powder, microkeratome motor oil, and gentian violet markers were not related to the outbreak.