The effect of lacrimal drainage abnormality on the surgical outcomes of congenital lacrimal fistula and vice versa

Eur J Ophthalmol. 2022 Jan;32(1):108-114. doi: 10.1177/1120672121994721. Epub 2021 Feb 12.


Purpose: To evaluate the various surgical modalities of congenital lacrimal fistula and assess the mutual effect of lacrimal fistula and lacrimal drainage abnormality on the individual surgical outcomes.

Methods: In this retrospective cohort and case-control study, 74 eyes from 63 patients with lacrimal fistula who underwent surgical management between 2000 and 2015 at three medical centers were enrolled. The data collected included sex, age, preoperative symptoms, presence of concurrent lacrimal drainage abnormality, surgical methods, and surgical outcomes. The main outcome measures were treatment outcomes based on lacrimal drainage patency and symptom improvement, surgical outcome of fistulectomy according to the presence of lacrimal drainage abnormality, and surgical outcome of lacrimal drainage abnormality according to the presence of fistula.

Results: The mean age at the time of surgery was 9.2 (SD, ±8.8) years and the mean follow-up duration was 14.4 (SD, ±19.5) months. All eyes (37/37) with fistula without lacrimal drainage abnormality demonstrated surgical success after simple fistulectomy. Patients with concurrent lacrimal drainage abnormalities showed more frequent surgical failure than those with fistula alone (p = 0.009). However, the presence of fistula did not affect the outcomes of surgery for lacrimal drainage abnormality (p = 0.179).

Conclusion: Simple fistulectomy is sufficient for sole asymptomatic or pauci-symptomatic lacrimal fistula. Symptomatic fistula as well as those accompanied with lacrimal drainage abnormality underwent fistulectomy and lacrimal drainage system surgery. Patients with accompanying lacrimal drainage system abnormalities showed less favorable outcomes. Meticulous preoperative examination of the lacrimal drainage system is critical for surgical planning and prognosis prediction.

Keywords: Congenital lacrimal fistula; lacrimal drainage abnormality; lacrimal fistulectomy; nasolacrimal duct obstruction.

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Dacryocystorhinostomy*
  • Fistula* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Lacrimal Apparatus Diseases* / surgery
  • Lacrimal Duct Obstruction*
  • Nasolacrimal Duct*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome