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Repair of Bilateral Cleft Lip: Review, Revisions, and Reflections

Mulliken, John B. MD; Wu, June K. MD; Padwa, Bonnie L. DMD, MD

Journal of Craniofacial Surgery: September 2003 - Volume 14 - Issue 5 - p 609-620
Original Articles

Rarely does the appearance of a child with a repaired bilateral cleft lip compare favorably with that of a child with a repaired unilateral cleft lip. However, there has been a major change in operative strategy during the past decade, and as a result, the typical bilateral cleft nasolabial stigmata are no longer so obvious. The senior author restates the principles for correction of bilateral cleft lip and nasal deformity, and underscores the essential role of preoperative premaxillary positioning. He reviews his method of single-stage closure of the cleft primary palate, including three-dimensional adjustments based on predicted four-dimensional changes. Operative modifications are described for variations of bilateral cleft lip. The authors emphasize the surgeon's obligation for periodic assessment. In a consecutive series of 50 patients with repaired bilateral complete cleft lip/palate, the revision-rate was 33% as compared with 12.5% if the secondary palate is intact. No revisions were necessary for philtral size or columellar length. The authors propose that nasolabial appearance and speech are the priorities in habilitation of the child with bilateral cleft lip/palate rather than the traditional emphasis on maxillary growth.

Boston, Massachusetts

From the Craniofacial Centre, Division of Plastic Surgery and Oral Surgery, Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. John B. Mulliken, Division of Plastic Surgery and Oral Surgery, Children's Hospital, 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA, 02115, U.S.A.

Panel Presentation at the American Academy of Pediatrics, Boston, October 19, 2002.

©2003Muntaz B. Habal, MD