The Rate of Oronasal Fistula Following Primary Cleft Palate Surgery: A Meta-Analysis

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Background:Despite decades of craniofacial surgeons repairing cleft palates, there is no consensus for the rate of fistula formation following surgery. The authors present a metaanalysis of studies that reported on primary cleft palate to determine the rate of oronasal fistula and to identify risk factors for their development.Methods:A literature search for the period between 2000 and 2012 was performed. Articles were queried and strict inclusion and exclusion criteria were applied to focus on primary cleft palate repair. A meta-analysis of these data was conducted.Results:The meta-analysis included 11 studies, comprising 2505 children. The rate of oronasal fistula development was 4.9% (95% confidence interval, 3.8% to 6.1%). When analyzing a larger cohort, there was a significant relationship between Veau classification and the occurrence of a fistula (P< .001), with fistulae most prevalent in patients with a Veau IV cleft. The most common location for a fistula was at the soft palate-hard palate junction. One study used decellularized dermis in cleft repair with a fistula rate of 3.2%.Conclusions:Using 11 studies comprising 2505 children, we find the rate of reported fistula occurrence to be 4.9%. Furthermore, patients with a Veau IV cleft are significantly more likely to develop an oronasal fistula. When fistulae do occur, they do so most often at the soft palate-hard palate junction. A deeper understanding of fistula formation will help cleft palate surgeons improve their outcomes in the operating room and will allow them to effectively communicate expectations with patients' families in the clinic.

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