Background: The development of surgical repair of cleft lip–cleft palate closure has been well documented in the literature. However, the contributions of an unlikely pioneer, Harvey Cushing, in the development of cleft lip–cleft palate closure have been to date unknown.
Methods: Patient surgical records from 1896 to 1912 at The Johns Hopkins Hospital documenting Harvey Cushing's cases were reviewed.
Results: Three cases of Cushing's surgical closure of cleft lip–cleft palate, using a variety of techniques, are described and placed into historical context in the development of cleft lip–cleft palate surgery.
Conclusions: Harvey Cushing's contributions to the field of plastic and reconstructive surgery have largely remained unknown. The cases reported here illustrate the early work of this pioneering surgeon in the area of cleft lip–cleft palate surgery.