Endoscopic laser dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR) is a recognized technique for the surgical treatment of epiphora. Nasolacrimal duct obstruction is surgically bypassed by creating a passage from the lacrimal sac to the nasal cavity (rhinostomy). Some patients have undergone endonasal laser-assisted DCR, and were found to have an obstructed rhinostomy at follow-up. However, they reported a subjective improvement in their symptoms. Five such patients, at six months follow-up, were found to have a non-functioning rhinostomy with fluorescein dye emerging from under the inferior turbinate. These five patients along with four controls had post-operative macrodacryocystograms (MDCG) to delineate the anatomical passage by which tears were entering the nasal cavity.
In the control group, clear passage of contrast into the middle meatus was demonstrated in three of the four subjects. In the study group, passage of dye to the inferior meatus, via the nasolacrimal duct was demonstrated in four of the five subjects.
It is well recognized that a proportion of patients suffering from epiphora will have a natural resolution of their symptoms. Our results demonstrate that the resolution of epiphora in some operated patients was due to a re-opening of the nasolacrimal duct, and not because of a patent rhinostomy.