Understanding Dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR) Surgery

If you or someone you know is dealing with persistent tear duct issues, you may have heard of dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR) surgery. This procedure is designed to address blocked tear ducts, a common problem that can lead to discomfort and vision issues if left untreated. In this article, we’ll explore what DCR surgery entails, who might benefit from it, and what to expect during and after the procedure.

What is Dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR) Surgery?

Dacryocystorhinostomy, often abbreviated as DCR, is a surgical procedure used to treat blocked tear ducts. Tear duct blockages can occur due to various reasons, including infections, injury, or narrowing of the tear ducts (known as nasolacrimal ducts). When the tear ducts are blocked, tears cannot drain properly, leading to excessive tearing, eye irritation, and potential infections.

DCR surgery creates a new pathway for tears to drain from the eyes into the nose, bypassing the blocked or dysfunctional tear ducts. This can be achieved through an external approach (making a small incision on the side of the nose) or an endoscopic approach (using a tiny camera and instruments inserted through the nasal cavity).

Who Needs DCR Surgery?

DCR surgery is typically recommended for individuals suffering from the following conditions:

  1. Chronic Tearing: If you experience persistent tearing that doesn’t improve with conservative treatments like warm compresses or antibiotics, DCR surgery may be considered.
  2. Recurrent Infections: Blocked tear ducts can lead to frequent eye infections or swelling around the tear duct area, which may require surgical intervention to prevent further complications.
  3. Anatomic Abnormalities: Some individuals are born with congenital abnormalities that cause structural issues in the tear ducts, making them prone to blockages.

The DCR Surgical Procedure

During DCR surgery, our ophthalmologist will carefully remove the blockage or create a new drainage pathway. The procedure can typically be performed under local or general anesthesia, depending on the patient’s preference and the surgeon’s recommendation.

The surgeon may use one of two main approaches for DCR surgery:

  • External DCR: This involves making a small incision on the side of the nose near the tear ducts to access and clear the blockage. A small silicone tube may be placed temporarily to keep the new drainage pathway open during healing.
  • Endoscopic DCR: This approach utilizes a thin, flexible tube with a camera (endoscope) inserted through the nasal passages to access and clear the blocked tear ducts. This technique is less invasive and may result in quicker recovery times.

Recovery and Aftercare

After DCR surgery, patients can usually return home the same day with specific instructions for recovery. It’s normal to experience mild discomfort, swelling, or nasal congestion for a few days following the procedure. Pain medication and nasal sprays may be prescribed to alleviate these symptoms.

Here are some general tips for recovery after DCR surgery:

  • Follow-up Visits: Attend all scheduled follow-up appointments with your surgeon to ensure proper healing and monitor for any complications.
  • Avoid Strenuous Activities: Refrain from heavy lifting or strenuous activities for a few weeks following surgery to promote healing.
  • Care for Incision Sites: Keep the incision sites clean and dry, and avoid touching or rubbing the area.


Dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR) surgery is a safe and effective treatment option for individuals suffering from blocked tear ducts and related symptoms. If you’re considering DCR surgery or have been recommended by a healthcare professional, be sure to discuss the procedure thoroughly with our surgeon to understand the benefits, risks, and expected outcomes.

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