Objective: To evaluate the role of cryotherapy in the current treatment of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). Methods: Literature searches of PubMed and the Cochrane Library were conducted on December 2, 2009, for articles published after 1984. The searches included all languages and retrieved 187 relevant citations. Thirteen articles were deemed relevant to the assessment question and were rated according to the strength of evidence. Four articles reported results from 2 large multicenter randomized clinical trials, and the remaining 9 articles reported results of 3 small randomized trials that directly compared cryotherapy and laser. Results: Neither of the multicenter randomized clinical trials was a direct comparison of cryotherapy with laser. These studies were used to evaluate the comparative trials based on treatment criteria, study populations, and clinical results. Higher percentages of poor structural and functional outcomes generally were seen in eyes treated with cryotherapy compared with eyes undergoing laser treatment. Higher rates of systemic complications and myopia also were identified after treatment with cryotherapy. Conclusions: Despite a relative paucity of level I evidence directly comparing cryotherapy and laser treatment for threshold ROP, the literature suggests that neonatal facilities should gain access to laser technology and laser-trained ophthalmic staff to achieve better outcomes for treatment of the disease. Financial Disclosure(s): The author(s) have no proprietary or commercial interest in any materials discussed in this article.
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