Font Size
A
A
A

Blocked Tear Ducts: Intubation


Topic Overview

Blocked tear ducts are sometimes cleared using a procedure called intubation. During intubation, two small wire probes attached to silicone tubes are passed into the upper and lower tear duct openings (puncta) and down the tear duct drainage system into the nasal cavity. The wires are removed and the tubes are tied or sewn in place to keep the tear ducts open. Intubation is usually done as part of a probing procedure in the hospital using general anesthesia. Most babies go home the same day.

From 3 to 16 weeks after surgery, the person returns to the doctor's office, and the tubes are removed. Anesthesia is usually not needed when the tubes are taken out.

Some doctors leave the tubes in place for 6 months to a year. This causes a new lining to form around the tubes, leaving an open channel in the tear duct when the tubes are removed.

Intubation leaves no facial scars. And it has less risk of complications than dacryocystorhinostomy, a procedure that creates a new tear duct canal. Intubation is sometimes used when a person:

  • Has a partial blockage of a tear duct.
  • Has had one or more failed probing attempts and who still has symptoms of a blocked tear duct.
  • Wants to avoid the surgical incision (on the face) that results from dacryocystorhinostomy.
  • Has had dacryocystorhinostomy surgery, and the tear duct has become blocked again.

Risks of intubation include the following:

  • The tube may loosen and move out of place.
  • The hole in the corner of the eyelid through which tears drain (punctum) may be damaged.
  • The lining of the eyelids (conjunctiva) may become irritated.
  • The person may feel discomfort inside his or her nose.

It is common to have a watery eye after surgery. Tears cannot drain as well through the affected tear duct while the very small tubes from the intubation are still in place.

Related Information

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerChristopher J. Rudnisky, MD, MPH, FRCSC - Ophthalmology
Last RevisedNovember 8, 2011

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

To learn more visit Healthwise.org

© 1995-2014 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.



NIH talks about Ebola on WebMD


Medical Dictionary