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Ophthalmology. 2009 Nov;116(11):2230-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2009.04.029. Epub 2009 Sep 10.

Lacrimal excretory system concretions: canalicular and lacrimal sac.

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University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, Wisconsin 53792, USA.



To characterize the demographics of patients with dacryolithiasis and to compare patients who have canalicular concretions with patients who have lacrimal sac and duct dacryoliths.


Comparative case series study and literature review.


A total of 327 consecutive patients undergoing external dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR) between 1998 and 2008 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Fifteen consecutive patients with the diagnosis of canaliculitis during this period were also included.


The charts of all patients were reviewed for age, sex, laterality, duration of symptoms, history of dacryocystitis, history of lacrimal system intervention, history of smoking, examination findings, result of canalicular probing and irrigation, and histopathologic evaluation of the dacryolith or canalicular concretion. If applicable, the canaliculus involved was noted, as was any history of purulent canalicular drainage or canalicular injury.


Patient demographics, duration of symptoms, history of dacryocystitis, history of smoking, presence of fungi, or Actinomyces on histopathologic evaluation. Findings were compared with prior studies reported in the literature.


Of the 327 patients undergoing DCR, 22 (6.7%) had dacryoliths; 11 of 15 patients (73.3%) with canaliculitis had canalicular concretions. Patients with canalicular concretions were older than those with dacryoliths at DCR: 70.6 years versus 51.1 years (P = 0.003). Women made up the majority of both groups: 9 of 11 patients (81.8%) with canalicular concretions and 13 of 22 patients (59.1%) with dacryoliths at DCR (P = 0.26). The mean duration of symptoms was 20.2 months among patients with canalicular concretions and 30.5 months in patients with dacryoliths at DCR (P = 0.66); 1 of 11 patients (9.1%) with canalicular concretions smoked, compared with 9 of 21 patients (42.9%) with dacryoliths at DCR (P = 0.11). Actinomyces was isolated from 10 of 11 canalicular concretions (90.9%) and only 3 of 22 dacryoliths (13.6%) from DCR (P<0.001). In none of the 11 canalicular concretions were fungi identified, compared with 2 of 22 dacryoliths (9.1%) from DCR (P = 0.54).


The demographics of patients with dacryoliths and the histopathology of their concretions vary with the location of the dacryolith in the lacrimal excretory system.

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