Primary acquired nasolacrimal duct obstruction (PANDO)

Last revised by Rohit Sharma on 6 Apr 2024

Primary acquired nasolacrimal duct obstruction (PANDO) is a chronic inflammatory cause of nasolacrimal drainage apparatus obstruction. 

Most commonly seen in middle-aged or elderly women.

The exact cause is still not very well known however it thought to be due to the combination of inflammation, obstruction, and stasis factors. One study showed that coagulase-negative Staphylococci, non-spore-forming anaerobes, Gram-positive rods and Pseudomonas aeruginosa were frequently isolated, but regardless of what the initial insult is, inflammation causes congestion and edema, which worsen the narrowing of the passage(s) ref.

A congenitally narrow bony canal in some patients (particularly in females) can contribute to this process. Stasis of tears in lacrimal sac predisposes to further inflammation and infection. The greater incidence of PANDO in females has been attributed to narrower bony duct size and hormonal changes resulting in shedding of epithelial cells into the canal during menopause.  

Primary acquired nasolacrimal duct obstruction manifests as gradual chronic inflammation and fibrosis along the entire length of the nasolacrimal duct initially more prominent at the sites of physiological narrowing such as the valve of Rosenmuller, the junction between the lacrimal sac and duct. Stenoses develop at symmetrical locations on both sides but usually with lagging of stenosis in one side several years behind the other side so one-sided epiphora is still the most common presentation. The gradual obstruction leads into chronic dacryocystitis with several bouts of acute exacerbations.

Imaging is not usually required for diagnosis or pretreatment assessment. But CT scan is recommended after initial balloon dilatation and in recurrent cases. 

Initially, any infection should be treated with appropriate antibiotics like ciprofloxacin then probing or balloon dacryocystoplasty which usually has a successful outcome. Finally, dacryocystorhinostomy can be performed (an opening is made surgically between the lacrimal sac and nasal cavity proximal to the obstruction).

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