Pterygium Surgery

Pterygium Surgery Brisbane

Before pterygium surgery can be considered, a correct diagnosis is needed, which requires a thorough eye examination.

At Valley Eye Specialists, surgery to remove a pterygium is performed by Dr Juanita Pappalardo who specialises in the procedure. Dr Pappalardo performs the P.E.R.F.E.C.T (Pterygium Extended Removal Followed by Extended Conjunctival Transplantation) technique, having been trained by the pioneer of the technique, Professor Lawrence Hirst. The procedure can be performed at Brisbane Day Surgery in Spring Hill or at North West Private Hospital in Everton Park. The surgery can be performed as a day procedure, and is performed under local anaesthetic sedation or general anasethesia.

What is a pterygium?

A pterygium is characterised by an overgrowth of tissue onto the clear cornea from the white of the eye. It can affect one or both eyes.
It can have a variety of causes, but it is most often caused by excessive sun exposure in the early years of life, particularly among young adults in Queensland.
If you have a pterygium, it may remain at the same size, or it may continue to grow, extending across the front of the eye and leading to further concerns. If left untreated, a pterygium can cause discomfort, inflammation, and redness and can sometimes interfere with vision.
Treatment for a pterygium can include using lubricating eye drops, using eye drops that can temporarily relieve symptoms, avoiding certain irritants, or surgical removal. Surgical removal may be recommended if the pterygium is causing significant irritation, or redness, if vision is affected, or if it seems to be changing. It may also be surgically removed for cosmetic purposes.

Symptoms of a pterygium

A pterygium typically appears as a triangular, fleshy growth of tissue onto the cornea of an eye (or both eyes). Some symptoms that a pterygium can cause include irritation (particularly itching or burning), redness/inflammation, and ocular discomfort. A pterygium can also interfere with vision, depending on how far across the front of the eye it has grown

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Preparing for pterygium surgery

Before undergoing a procedure to remove a pterygium, you’ll need to have a thorough assessment with one of our ophthalmologists. Since changes in the eye that are similar to those seen in pterygium may be indicators of other conditions, it’s essential that the diagnosis is correctly made.

For your first consultation, remember to bring your referral letter from your optometrist, GP or other medical practitioner, and your Medicare card and private health insurance details (if applicable). You should also bring along a list of any current medications or eye drops that you currently take or use, as well as results of any relevant tests or scans that you have had. If you wear glasses or contact lenses, you should also bring these to your appointment.

During your consultation, your ophthalmologist will perform a comprehensive ophthalmic examination, including imaging of your eye. Your ophthalmologist will also discuss personal factors, such as any health conditions you may have and lifestyle factors that need to be considered in your treatment plan.
We will provide you with any necessary instructions to follow in the lead up to your surgery, to ensure you are prepared. We may ask you to fast, or to make changes to medications (such as diabetes medications or blood thinning medications).
When you arrive at the surgical facility, you will need to have some eye drops instilled in your eye to prepare it for surgery. You should avoid bringing any jewellery or valuables to the hospital as these may need to be removed during the procedure.

Pterygium surgery at Valley Eye Specialists in Brisbane

Pterygium surgery will be performed by Dr Juanita Pappalardo who is one of our experienced ophthalmologists at Valley Eye Specialists. The procedure is usually performed as day surgery. Depending on your preference, the surgery can be performed at Brisbane Day Surgery in Spring Hill, or at North West Private Hospital in Everton Park. All of the details of your surgery will be discussed during your consultation at our Brisbane practice, as each procedure is tailored to meet individual needs.

When you arrive at the surgical facility, some eye drops may need to be instilled in your eye to prepare for the procedure. The surgery is performed under local anaesthetic and sedation or under general anaesthetic.
Dr Pappalardo utilises the P.E.R.F.E.C.T (Pterygium Extended Removal Followed by Extended Conjunctival Transplantation) technique, that aims to prevent recurrence of the pterygium and provide the best possible aesthetic result.
Immediately following surgery, you will be monitored in a recovery area to ensure that you are feeling well, before being cleared to return home. The entire process typically takes about three hours. You won’t be able to drive after surgery, so please arrange for transportation home from the hospital.
Ideally, you should also have someone stay with you for the first night after your surgery. Before you go home, you will be informed of the appropriate measures to take to support your recovery.

What to expect after pterygium surgery

You should be able to return home on the same day as your surgery, however you will return to the clinic the following day for a check up with your ophthalmologist to ensure your eye is beginning to recover, and to provide you with further instructions regarding eye drops and how to take care of your eye as it recovers.
After your surgery, you should follow any recovery instructions provided to you by your ophthalmologist. It’s normal for your eye to look red and feel gritty after the procedure, and this usually takes a few weeks to completely subside. You will be instructed to use eye drops during the weeks after your surgery to help protect against infection, reduce inflammation and help your eye heal.
You’ll need around three routine visits to your ophthalmologist during the 12 months after your surgery, to monitor your healing progress. There is a rare chance (less than 1 in 1, 000) of pterygium reoccurring after surgery, but this risk is minimised by using the P.E.R.F.E.C.T technique.

The costs of pterygium surgery

Our team will provide you with information regarding the expected cost of your consultation and diagnostic tests required, together with the applicable Medicare rebate, upon the confirmation of an appointment. Please note that appointments cannot be bulk billed.
The costs of your pterygium surgery will overall include a fee for the surgeon performing the cataract surgery, the anaesthetist who will provide your anaesthesia, and the hospital fee. Hospital fees will depend on your chosen hospital (either Brisbane Day Surgery or North West Private Hospital).
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Medicare and Private Health Insurance

Patients may be eligible for a partial Medicare rebate for the consultation and some of the diagnostic tests required. To be eligible for a Medicare rebate, you will need a current referral and must meet Medicare’s criteria. Our Reception team can submit the claim to Medicare electronically upon full payment.
While consultations are not covered by Private Health Insurance providers, some providers may be able to cover a portion or all of the costs associated with surgery. Our team can provide you with personalised advice regarding your surgery costs after your consultation.

How to prevent pterygium

A pterygium may be prevented by protecting the eyes from sun exposure as well as exposure to dusty, sandy, dry or windy environments. You can protect your eyes by wearing appropriate eyewear, such as sunglasses and a broad-brimmed hat, when protecting your eyes from sunlight. You should start protecting your eyes from an early age to prevent pterygium.

Our ophthalmologists

Dr Juanita Pappalardo

Awarded the prestigious Filipic Greer Medal for overall outstanding performance in Ophthalmic Pathology in Australia and New Zealand, Dr Pappalardo completed her ophthalmology training rotating through major

ophthalmology units within Brisbane and the Gold Coast. Her extensive training began at the University of Queensland School of Medicine, before completing her internship and residency at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane and her ophthalmology residency at the City Eye Centre and the Mater Adult’s and Mater Children’s Hospitals in Brisbane. Recently published in international journals in the field of ocular genetics, she maintains an interest in the area of research, actively participates in registrar teaching.
To perform pterygium surgery, Dr Pappalardo practices the P.E.R.F.E.C.T (Pterygium Extended Removal Followed by Extended Conjunctival Transplantation) technique, after training with the pioneer of the technique Professor Lawrence Hirst.