Nasolacrimal duct obstruction in children: outcome of intubation

Charmaine S Lim, Frank Martin, Ted Beckenham, Robert G Cumming
Journal of AAPOS: the Official Publication of the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus 2004, 8 (5): 466-72

BACKGROUND: Nasolacrimal silicone intubation is a treatment for congenital nasolacrimal duct obstruction (NLDO) after failed probing and irrigation. Functional outcome has been previously reported as poorer in children with Down syndrome.

METHOD: The outcome of 122 cases of silicone bicanalicular nasolacrimal intubation, performed between 1988 and 2002 on 97 children aged 11 months to 9.5 years, was retrospectively reviewed. In all children, intubation was performed under direct vision using nasal endoscopy. Statistical analysis, including multiple logistic regression analysis, was used to assess the effects of duration of intubation, and age at surgery, on treatment outcome, and to determine potential predictors of treatment failure.

RESULTS: The overall success rate was 85%, with 89% success for eyes in children with Down syndrome and 85% success for eyes in children without Down syndrome. Success rates were consistently high (83% to 100%) for children who underwent surgery between 1 and 4 years of age. The average duration of intubation was 5.5 months. Increasing duration of intubation was not associated with increasing chance of success, but with a significantly higher risk of failure if greater than 18 months (P = 0.03). Retention of stents for longer than 12 months was associated with a significantly lower success rate (67%). The presence of Down syndrome, increasing age at surgery, or gender were not predictive factors for treatment failure. Unplanned removal of tubes because of dislodgement was the most common complication, occurring in 25% of eyes, but did not affect functional outcome.

CONCLUSIONS: Nasolacrimal silicone intubation, under direct nasal endoscopic visualization, is a consistently successful procedure for the treatment of NLDO among children aged older than 12 months of age. Tubing should be left in place for a maximum of 12 months because the success rate declines after this period and the risk of failure is significantly increased after 18 months of intubation. Prematurely dislodged tubes need not be replaced unless symptoms of nasolacrimal obstruction occur, because this does not lead to an increased risk of treatment failure.

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