Postoperative Respiratory Complications After Cleft Palate Closure in Patients With Pierre Robin Sequence: Operative Considerations

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In cleft palate surgery, there is currently no consensus on the management of patients with Pierre Robin Sequence (PRS). The authors aimed to evaluate the treatment strategy of cleft palate in our centers, with emphasis on patients with PRS, as the authors noted some patients with severe respiratory distress. Moreover, the authors aimed to investigate the prevalence of postoperative respiratory complications, using a modified-Furlow palatoplasty in combination with intravelar veloplasty in both patients with PRS and patients with non-PRS.


The authors retrospectively identified all consecutive patients, both PRS and non-PRS, who underwent palate repair between January 1, 2012 and December 15, 2014 at 2 cooperating cleft centers (Bruges, Belgium; Budapest, Hungary). The treatment modality was uniform and performed by the same 2 surgeons.


In 92 consecutive patients, 4 patients experienced respiratory distress after palate repair. The female-to-male ratio was 1:1. The mean age at surgery in these 4 patients was 15 months (range 13–19 months). Fifteen percent (2/13) of patients with PRS experienced respiratory distress in comparison to 3% (2/79) of non-PRS (χ2 = 4.43; P = 0.035).


This is the first report of postoperative respiratory difficulties, while using a modified-Furlow palatoplasty in combination with intravelar veloplasty. In the present author's experience, the authors suggest to perform a 2-stage closure of the cleft palate in patients with PRS and to do so at a later age, when the palatal tissues and airway structures are more mature. Moreover, patients with PRS should be monitored closely, as they can present with different degrees of respiratory distress after palatoplasty.

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