Lacrimal (Tear) Duct Probing Surgery

Lacrimal (tear) duct probing surgery is done in newborns when massaging the clogged tear ducts does not work.

In an infant, a blocked tear duct may occur when the membrane that covers the end of the duct does not open like it should at four to six weeks. This causes the duct to become blocked by the tissue of the membrane, causing constant tears, mildly swollen and red eyelids, eyelids that stick together, and/or green-yellow discharge. Tear duct probing surgery helps open up the blocked tear duct.
  1. Understand the treatment, including risks and benefits.
  2. Prepare physically for the procedure by avoiding infection and meeting an internal medicine doctor and anesthesiologist before the procedure.
  3. Carefully follow all pre-operative instructions, including avoiding food and water and stopping medication that can affect bleeding.
  4. Sign all consent forms as required.
The doctor will use a metal probe to perforate the membrane. The patient will not be conscious during the procedure. The procedure takes 15-20 minutes.
Use eyedrops as prescribed by the doctor.
  1. Mild pain that can be managed with prescribed medication.
  2. Adverse effects include worsening redness, severe eye discharge, and/or constant pain. If these occur, please see the doctor immediately.
  3. Recurrence.
There are no travel limitations before and after the procedure.
Between 70-90% of patients (Perveen S, et al. 2014) will recover completely. If the procedure is not successful it may need to be repeated or a different procedure may be required, such as endoscopic dacryocystorhinostomy.
What if the procedure is not performed?
In infants there will be excessive tearing and wet eyes even though they are not crying. In some the condition can become chronic and the eyes will appear irritated all the time due to the discharge leaked. If not treated, the condition can worsen and lead to infection that can spread to the eyes themselves. Surgery is usually performed by the age of one. Waiting any longer can affect the success of the procedure.

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