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Understanding DCR Surgery

A dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR), is a type of surgery done to create a new path for tears to drain between your eyes and nose if your tear ducts have become blocked.

Tear ducts can become blocked for various reasons. As you get older, the openings that usually drain tears may get smaller. Infections or inflammations can also cause your tear ducts to become blocked. Other uncommon reasons for blockage can include injury, tumours, eyedrops, and side effects from cancer treatments.

Once your tear ducts are blocked, DCR surgery is an option to bypass the original path and allow your tears to drain out into your nasal cavity.

There are two different methods of performing DCR surgery. It can be done externally, or may be performed using an endoscope through the nasal passageway without leaving a skin incision.

Endoscopic DCR Surgery

During an endoscopic DCR, a thin flexible tube containing a light and a camera is inserted into the nose. Using the endoscope to see up your nasal passageway, a trained surgeon is able to make an opening into the lacrimal sac which holds the tears that drain away from your eyes.

The surgeon then connects the lacrimal sac to your nasal cavity, creating a path for excess tears to drain away. A small tube is usually placed to keep the connection open.

External DCR Surgery

The other type of DCR surgery is known as an external DCR surgery. As the name implies, it is done with an incision in the area under your eye and next to your nose.

Through this incision, the surgeon creates a small opening to link the lacrimal sac and nasal cavity together. Similar to an endoscopic DCR surgery, a small tube, or stent, is left to keep the opening intact.

Both endoscopic and external DCR have high success rates. The main differences between the two types of surgery are that endoscopic DCR leaves no external incision or external scarring. 

Risks of DCR Surgery

All surgical procedures carry with them some amount of risk, and DCR surgery is no exception. Some of the possible complications include excess bleeding, infection, displacement of the tube, and abnormally fused tissue in the nose.

Preparing for DCR Surgery

The best thing you can do to prepare for a DCR surgery is to talk to your surgeon before the procedure. Inform them of any medication you are on and check if you need to fast the night before.

Recovery

In most cases you should be able to go home on the same day after either an external or endoscopic DCR surgery. It’s recommended that you have someone to follow you back after your procedure. 

Follow your doctor’s notes about caring for your eyes and nose in the days after the surgery. You may need to take antibiotics to prevent infections and your doctor might provide input on rinsing the nasal cavity. Steroid and nasal decongestants might also be given.

A follow-up appointment will be scheduled and it’s important not to miss it so your doctor can monitor your progress after the surgery. Be sure to inform your doctor if you have excess bleeding, fever, pain, or swelling.

A DCR surgery is a fairly standard and common procedure with high success rates and low chances for severe complications. If you have any doubts or concerns, be sure to talk to your physician to clarify them.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of blocked tear ducts which include excessive tearing, redness, recurring eye infections, inflammation, swelling, pus or mucus discharge, and blurred vision, then it would be advisable to talk to a medical professional.

Nova Eye Centre is an eye specialist clinic headed by Dr Eugene Tay who has over 20 years of clinical experience. Contact us today via our website to get in touch and make an appointment. Our team will get back to you to schedule a visit and answer any queries you might have.

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