PURPOSE: To investigate the role of cells and extracellular matrix on the internal limiting membrane (ILM), we demonstrated a new method for a comprehensive bird's-eye analysis of surgically excised ILM. DESIGN: Laboratory investigation. METHODS: The ILM of an idiopathic epiretinal membrane was fixed and spread out onto a glass slide, using fine needles under a biomicroscope. The expanded ILM was analyzed by light microscopy, immunohistochemistry, and scanning electron microscopy. RESULTS: The excised ILM could be unfolded and spread out as a flat sheet onto the glass slide. Immunohistochemistry revealed that most migrating cells were glial cells. Scanning electronmicroscopy revealed that the vitreous surface of the ILM was smooth, in contrast to the rough retinal surface. The ILM showed abundant cellular migration as a continuous stratified cellular sheet. CONCLUSIONS: This new bird's-eye-view observation of excised ILM enables us to carry out comprehensive analysis of cellular distribution from a temporal and spatial perspective.
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