BACKGROUND: Performance of lacrimal surgery under neuroleptic (local) anesthesia has greatly facilitated the procedure and decreased the associated morbidity. We reviewed the outcome of lacrimal surgery in older patients to determine whether such surgery can be performed safely in the outpatient setting in this group. METHODS: Review of the office and hospital charts and the surgical and anesthetic records of 120 patients (84 women and 36 men) aged 70 to 90 years who underwent lacrimal drainage procedures (dacryocystorhinostomy [DCR], canaliculodacryocystorhinostomy, DCR with insertion of a Jones tube, or a revision endonasal procedure with probing and tube insertion) at a university-affiliated hospital in Toronto in 1996. The interval between surgery and data collection ranged from 10 to 22 months. RESULTS: Of the 120 patients 65 were aged 70 to 75 years, 38 were 76 to 80 years, 11 were 81 to 85 years, and 6 were 86 to 90 years. Ninety-six patients had a unilateral procedure, and 24 (22 of whom were aged 70 to 80) had a bilateral procedure. Concomitant conditions, such as hypertension and cardiac disorders, were found in 104 patients (87%). Of the 120 patients 98 (82%) (including all those aged 81 to 90) had local anesthesia, and 22 (18%) had general anesthesia. In one case anesthesia had to be changed from local to general during the procedure because of noncompliance. A total of 112 patients (93%) whose surgery was planned as a day procedure were able to leave the hospital the same day. Three additional patients were admitted to hospital for an overnight stay because of increased bleeding at the time of surgery (one patient) or a history of cardiac problems (two patients). Five patients who had planned overnight stays because of cardiac problems did well during surgery and were discharged the same day, without consequence. None of the patients had to be readmitted at a later date for bleeding or health problems. In 109 patients (91%) the presenting symptom(s) was completely relieved. Overall, 116 patients (97%) had a totally open system with no reflux on syringing. INTERPRETATION: The surgical goals and techniques of lacrimal surgery in older patients were not compromised by performing the surgery in the outpatient setting and under neuroleptic anesthesia in most cases
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