A probing of the nasolacrimal duct is a surgical procedure performed to relieve the obstruction for any of the following reasons:
- If the tearing in combination with a frequent pus discharge persists after the first birthday.
- If the pus discharge persists despite use of the antibiotic eye drops and massage.
- If a more serious infection of the tear duct (“dacryocystitis”) or infection of the skin over the tear duct occurs as a result of the obstruction.
- If the tearing persists even in the absence of pus discharge at age 18+ months.
This delicate procedure is safely performed when your child is motionless. This is best achieved with a brief “mask” anesthesia at a hospital outpatient surgical facility.
During the probing, a small smooth wire probe is passed through the tear duct and into the nose. The surgeon confirms an open tear drainage system at the end of this procedure. Often a silicone stent is placed in the tear duct during this procedure and left in place for 6 months to assure that the blocked duct does not close again after the probing. The silicone stents are easily removed in the surgeon’s office without any need for anesthesia.
There are no incisions or scarring from this operation. There is no significant post-operative discomfort.
The vast majority of tear duct probing procedures are successful and do not require additional surgery.