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Direct Anthropometry of Repaired Bilateral Complete Cleft Lip: A Long-Term Assessment

Kim, David C., M.D.; Mulliken, John B., M.D.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: August 2017 - Volume 140 - Issue 2 - p 326e-332e
doi: 10.1097/PRS.0000000000003535
Pediatric/Craniofacial: Original Articles

Background: Repair of bilateral complete cleft lip requires more than following a design in a textbook. The operative strategy should incorporate knowledge of anticipated nasolabial changes with growth.

Methods: Direct nasolabial anthropometry was recorded in 174 children with bilateral complete cleft lip before and immediately after primary repair. Serial measurements were taken in 66 Caucasian patients between the ages of 6 months and 15 years and compared to Farkas’ normal values. Data for upper philtral width were unavailable; therefore, this dimension was measured in 454 nonsyndromic Caucasian male and female subjects aged 1 year to adulthood. Rates and types of revision were also documented.

Results: Inter–medial canthal width stayed above the mean and within normal limits throughout puberty. Interalar width was initially narrowed and hovered in the high normal range throughout adolescence. Columellar height and nasal projection were constructed slightly long and paralleled normal growth. Available cutaneous philtral length was used in the primary repair; however, this dimension remained short. The philtrum was made narrow and matched normal values throughout adolescence. Normal inferior/superior philtral width ratio was 1.60 for female subjects and 1.59 for male subjects. A full median tubercle was built at primary repair but, sometimes in late childhood, necessitated secondary augmentation with a dermal graft in 31 of 174 patients (18 percent), usually performed in late childhood or adolescence.

Conclusions: Serial anthropometry documented postoperative changes in nasolabial dimensions compared to normal growth curves. Repair of bilateral complete cleft lip requires primary correction of nasal and labial features based on their differential growth, with special attention to nasal width, philtral height and proportions, and size of the median tubercle.


Boston, Mass.

From the Department of Plastic and Oral Surgery, Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

Received for publication October 26, 2016; accepted January 13, 2017.

Disclosure:The authors have no financial disclosures or commercial associations that suggest any conflict of interest related to this article.

John B. Mulliken, M.D., Department of Plastic and Oral Surgery, Boston Children’s Hospital, 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, Mass. 02115,

Copyright © 2017 by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons