External versus endoscopic dacryocystorhinostomy for acquired nasolacrimal duct obstruction in a tertiary referral center.


To compare success rates of external dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR) and endoscopic endonasal DCR for acquired nasolacrimal duct obstruction (NLDO).


Retrospective, comparative, nonrandomized clinical study.


One hundred forty-three patients (176 surgeries) operated for acquired NLDO.


A review of electronic medical records of patients with acquired NLDO who underwent DCR at the Jules Stein Eye Institute from 1999 to 2004 was performed. Data regarding the lacrimal drainage system, comprehensive eye examination, surgical outcome, and postoperative nasal endoscopy were analyzed.


Surgery failure was defined as (1) no marked improvement in tearing or any episode of postoperative dacryocystitis, (2) inability to irrigate the lacrimal system postoperatively, and (3) postoperative nasal endoscopy with scarring in the intranasal osteotomy or no visualization of fluorescein dye. Postoperative nasal endoscopy was performed in all failed cases and in >50% of all patients.


One hundred forty-three patients (48 male and 95 female; mean age, 63 years) underwent 176 DCR surgeries for acquired NLDO. Success was achieved in 135 cases (76.7%), and failure in 41 (23.3%). Of the 41 failed cases, anatomical obstruction at the fistula site was found in 20 (49% of failed cases), whereas functional failure with no evidence of obstruction was found in 21 (51%). Surgery revision was performed in 22 cases (12.5%), but it was successful in only 9 (5.1%); patients who failed the first revision were likely to fail additional revisions (P = 0.02). History of facial trauma was associated with surgery failure. In our patients, endoscopic DCR (86 cases) had a significantly higher success rate than external DCR (90 cases), 84% versus 70% (P = 0.03). Complications included 1 patient with nose bleeding on the first postoperative day that resolved with nasal packing and 2 patients with sump syndrome that resolved after endoscopic revision.


The success rate of DCR for acquired NLDO in our group of patients was 77%, lower than reported in previous studies, with endoscopic surgery showing better results. Success rates of revision surgery were relatively low (<50%), and patients who fail the first revision are not likely to benefit from additional revisions.