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Original Investigation
September 2014

Management of Functional Epiphora in Patients With an Anatomically Patent Dacryocystorhinostomy

Author Affiliations
  • 1South Australian Institute of Ophthalmology, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Adelaide University, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
  • 2Department of Surgery–Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
  • 3Department of Ophthalmology, Greenlane Clinical Centre, Auckland, New Zealand
  • 4Department of Ophthalmology, Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  • 5Department of Ophthalmology, Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
JAMA Ophthalmol. 2014;132(9):1127-1132. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2014.1093

Importance  Approximately 5% to 10% of patients continue to experience persistent epiphora following an anatomically successful dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR) for nasolacrimal duct obstruction or stenosis.

Objective  To investigate the management and success rate of so-called “functional failure” of DCR for nasolacrimal duct obstruction by experienced lacrimal surgeons.

Design, Setting, and Participants  Multicenter retrospective case series including 5 Australian and New Zealand centers. Participants included 61 patients (71% women [n = 46]; mean age, 66 years) with functional epiphora after 65 DCRs (69% transnasal) who were recruited over a mean of 7.6 years. Inclusion criteria included confirmed preoperative diagnosis of nasolacrimal duct obstruction or stenosis, age greater than 18 years, recurrent or persistent epiphora after DCR, an anatomically successful DCR, and follow-up longer than 6 months. Exclusion criteria included evidence of lacrimal hypersecretion, eyelid malposition, and punctal or canalicular abnormalities.

Main Outcomes and Measures  The number, type, timing, and success of all clinical interventions performed for the management of functional epiphora after DCR.

Results  Epiphora recurred a mean of 8.9 months after primary DCR; 89% of the cases (n = 58) had evidence of a patent ostium and 100% were patent on lacrimal irrigation. Intubation with a lacrimal stent was performed in 82% of the cases at the time of surgery, and all stents were removed a mean of 8 weeks postoperatively. Epiphora was reported immediately following DCR in 32% (n = 21) of the cases and within 6 weeks after removal of the stent in 31% (n = 20); late recurrence (>12 months after DCR) developed in 37% (n = 24) of the cases. In a total of 15% of the cases, participants declined any treatment following DCR. The remainder underwent a mean of 1.3 interventions (range, 1-3) during a mean of 23 to 41 months after primary DCR, following which 72% (n = 47) of the cases had a successful outcome; 12% (n = 8) failed to achieve improvement, and the patients declined further intervention. Thirty-nine interventions (60%) were intubation with a silicone stent with a 54% success rate. Almost half of those undergoing intubation elected to keep the stent permanently; 34% (n = 22) had an eyelid-tightening procedure with 50% success, and 15% (n = 10) required a Lester-Jones tube despite patent canaliculi, with a success rate of 90%.

Conclusions and Relevance  Functional epiphora after DCR among patients with preoperative nasolacrimal duct obstruction or stenosis appears to be uncommon. Benefits can be achieved in most patients with intubation (transient or permanent) or eyelid tightening. More than one procedure is often required.