Retinopathy of prematurity screening criteria and workload implications at Tygerberg Children’s Hospital, South Africa: A cross-sectional study

  • E Visser Kift
  • N Freeman
  • C Cook
  • L Myer


Background. Screening guidelines for retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) used in high-income countries are not appropriate for middleincome countries, and screening requirements may vary even between units within one city.

Objective. To determine optimal ROP screening criteria, and its workload implications, for Tygerberg Children’s Hospital (TCH), Cape Town, South Africa.

Methods. This cross-sectional study included premature infants screened for ROP at TCH from 1 January 2009 to 31 December 2014. Logistic regression analysis for prediction and classification was performed. Predictors were birth weight (BW) and gestational age (GA). Endpoints were clinically significant ROP (CSROP) and type 1 ROP (T1ROP).

Results. Of 1 104 eligible infants, 33.4% had ROP (CSROP 9.1%, T1ROP 2.5%). All T1ROP infants received laser therapy. The number of screening examinations was inversely correlated with GA and BW. The number needed to screen to identify one infant requiring treatment was 41 (entailing 83 examinations, 4 screening hours, one technician and three doctors). Screening infants with a GA of ≤28 weeks or a BW of <1 000 g would have detected all infants with T1ROP but missed two outliers with CSROP. These outliers would only have been detected with a GA of ≤32 weeks or a BW <1 500 g.

Conclusions. Detection of infants with T1ROP is resource intensive. Larger infants require screening to include a few outliers, but they require fewer examinations than smaller infants. Making local screening criteria narrower on the basis of a limited evidence base may be dangerous. Risk factors for CSROP in larger infants need to be researched.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0256-95749
print ISSN: 2078-5135