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
general anesthesia. Most people 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
Has a partial blockage of a tear
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.
had dacryocystorhinostomy surgery, and the tear duct has become blocked
Risks of intubation include the following:
The tube may loosen and move out of
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.