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The Effectiveness of Mandibular Distraction in Improving Airway Obstruction in the Pediatric Population

Tahiri, Youssef M.D., M.Sc.; Viezel-Mathieu, Alex B.Sc.; Aldekhayel, Salah M.D., M.Ed.; Lee, James M.D., C.M.; Gilardino, Mirko M.D., M.Sc.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: March 2014 - Volume 133 - Issue 3 - p 352e–359e
doi: 10.1097/01.prs.0000438049.29258.a8
Pediatric/Craniofacial: Original Articles
Video Discussion

Background: Distraction osteogenesis is an effective technique for elongating the deficient mandible. The authors specifically evaluated its effectiveness in the treatment of airway obstruction in pediatric patients with mandibular hypoplasia.

Method: A comprehensive literature review of the National Library of Medicine (PubMed) database was performed. English-language studies involving isolated distraction of the pediatric mandible (younger than 18 years) with descriptive reporting of airway changes were included. Extracted data included demographics, initial diagnosis, distractor type, distraction protocol, predistraction and postdistraction airway status, and complications.

Results: Seventy-four articles met the inclusion criteria, resulting in 711 patients with craniofacial abnormalities who underwent mandibular distraction osteogenesis. Mean age at the time of distraction was 18.1 months. The most common diagnoses were isolated Pierre Robin sequence (52.9 percent), syndromic Pierre Robin sequence (7 percent), and Treacher Collins syndrome (6.8 percent). Mandibular distraction osteogenesis successfully treated airway obstruction in 89.3 percent of cases. Success was defined as either decannulation of tracheostomy, avoidance of tracheostomy or continuous positive airway pressure, or alleviation or significant improvement of obstructive sleep apnea symptoms. One hundred seventy-one (84.2 percent) of the 203 tracheostomy-dependent patients were successfully decannulated. Among the 181 patients with obstructive sleep apnea, mandibular distraction osteogenesis successfully allowed for either complete resolution or significant improvement of symptoms in 95.6 percent. A 23.8 percent overall complication rate was noted. The mean follow-up time was 28.7 months.

Conclusion: In addition to its positive effect on facial appearance, mandibular distraction osteogenesis is an effective procedure for the treatment of airway obstruction associated with congenital craniofacial defects involving mandibular hypoplasia in appropriately selected patients.

Video Discussion by Alexander Spiess, M.D., is available online for this article.

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

From the H. Bruce Williams Craniofacial and Cleft Surgery Unit, Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Montreal Children’s Hospital, McGill University.

Received for publication July 21, 2013; accepted September 19, 2013.

Presented at the 67th Annual Meeting of the Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons Meeting, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, May 28 through June 1, 2013.

Disclosure: The authors of have no financial interest to declare in relation to the content of this article.

A Video Discussion by James Smartt, M.D., accompanies this article. Go to and click on “Video Discussions” in the “Videos” tab to watch.

Mirko S. Gilardino, M.D., M.Sc., Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, McGill University Health Centre, H. Bruce Williams Craniofacial and Cleft Surgery Unit, Montreal Children’s Hospital, 2300 Tupper Street, C11.35, Montreal, Quebec H3H 1P3, Canada

©2014American Society of Plastic Surgeons