Current Surgical Practices in Cleft Care: Cleft Palate Repair Techniques and Postoperative Care


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Abstract

Background:The purpose of this study was to objectively report practices commonly used in cleft palate repair in the United States. This study investigates current surgical techniques, postoperative care, and complication rates for cleft palate repair surgery.Methods:All 803 surgeon members of the American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association were sent online and/or paper surveys inquiring about their management of cleft palate patients.Results:Three-hundred six surveys were received, a 38 percent response rate. This represented responses of surgeons from 100 percent of American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association registered cleft teams. Ninety-six percent of respondents perform a one-stage repair. Eighty-five percent of surgeons perform palate surgery when the patient is between 6 and 12 months of age. The most common one-stage repair techniques are the Bardach style (two flaps) with intravelar veloplasty and the Furlow palatoplasty. After surgery, 39 percent of surgeons discharge patients within 24 hours. Another 43 percent discharge patients within 48 hours. During postoperative management, 92 percent of respondents implement feeding restrictions. Eighty-five percent of physicians use arm restraints. Surgeons’ self-reported complications rates are minimal: 54 percent report a fistula in less than 5 percent of cases. The reported need for secondary speech surgery varies widely.Conclusions:The majority of respondents repair clefts in one stage. The most frequently used repair techniques are the Furlow palatoplasty and the Bardach style with intravelar veloplasty. After surgery, the majority of surgeons discharge patients in 1 or 2 days, and nearly all surgeons implement feeding restrictions and the use of arm restraints. The varying feeding protocols are reviewed in this article.

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