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Idiopathic Acquired Lacrimal Canalicular Obstruction

Satchi, Khami, M.B. B.Chir, F.R.C.Ophth; McNab, Alan A., D.Med.Sc., F.R.A.N.Z.C.O.

Ophthalmic Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery: May/June 2019 - Volume 35 - Issue 3 - p 266–268
doi: 10.1097/IOP.0000000000001225
Original Investigations

Purpose: Acquired lacrimal canalicular obstruction has a variety of causes. In a small proportion of patients, no cause can be identified. This article describes a cohort of 27 patients with idiopathic acquired lacrimal canalicular obstruction encountered over a 28-year period.

Methods: The diagnostic database of the senior author was analyzed to identify all cases of idiopathic acquired lacrimal canalicular obstruction seen from 1990 to 2017. Demographic, clinical, and treatment details were analyzed. Patients with primary lacrimal punctal stenosis or closure were excluded from the analysis.

Results: The authors encountered 27 patients with idiopathic acquired lacrimal canalicular obstruction (17 female, 63%) aged 34 to 91 years (median: 65 years). The level of canalicular obstruction ranged from 1 to 10 mm from the punctum. Canalicular obstruction involved 1 canaliculus in 4 patients, 2 in 14 (ipsilateral in all except one), 3 in 3, and all 4 in 6. One patient who presented with ipsilateral upper and lower canalicular obstructions developed contralateral upper and lower obstructions several years later, and another patient redeveloped obstructions after initial successful surgical repair. In all cases, there were no features on history or examination to suggest a cause for the canalicular obstruction. Follow up ranged from 1 to 260 months (mean: 39 months). Sixteen patients underwent surgical repair, 11 with a dacryocystorhinostomy and placement of a Lester Jones glass bypass tube, 2 had a canaliculo-dacryocystorhinostomy (anastomosis of the canaliculus to the nose), 2 had dacryocystorhinostomy and trephination of the canalicular obstruction with silicone intubation, and 1 had a dacryocystorhinostomy alone to try and improve drainage through a single patent canaliculus.

Conclusion: Idiopathic acquired lacrimal canalicular obstruction is uncommon and occurs more frequently in older women. The condition may be slowly progressive and can affect one or more canaliculi at any level. Treatment is the same as for any other cause of acquired lacrimal canalicular obstruction.

Idiopathic acquired lacrimal canalicular obstruction occurs most commonly in older women, may affect one or more canaliculi at any point along the canaliculus, and may be slowly progressive.

Orbital, Plastic and Lacrimal Clinic, Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital, Melbourne, Australia

Accepted for publication July 31, 2018.

The authors have no financial or conflicts of interest to disclose.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Alan A. McNab, D.Med.Sc., F.R.A.N.Z.C.O., Suite 216, 100 Victoria Parade, East Melbourne, 3002 Victoria, Australia. E-mail:

© 2019 by The American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Inc., All rights reserved.