Craniofacial clefts are rare occurrences with an incidence of about 1.43 to 4.85 per 100,000 live births. Understanding the skeletal deformity in these clefts is basic to any reconstructive surgery of the face. This study documented the skeletal defects present in Tessier numbers 3 and 4 using anthropometric measurements to generate a subclassification which will aim to improve the means of communication between surgeons managing this anomaly.
Seven computed tomography scans of patients who had been treated for Tessier 3 and 4 clefts between 2003 and 2017 were analyzed. Measurements of the expected defects in each cleft was taken and compared with unaffected side as the reference. Emerging patterns of their analysis was then used to generate a subclassification for these clefts. The reliability and validity of the measurements were ensured by allowing the data to be examined by both an intra- and interobserver.
The presence or absence of an alveolar cleft, the emerging patterns of comparison of the measurements of the maxilla and the orbits of the cleft side and the noncleft side as well as absence of the bone were used to arrive at a subclassification system using (a), (b), (c), (M+ O+), (M− O−), and (0).
The study recommends a subclassification for Tessier clefts numbers 3 and 4 that will allow physicians anticipate the extent and the form of skeletal defects present before even seeing the patient. This can improve the communication among surgeons and team members regarding Tessier craniofacial clefts.