Columellar Reconstruction After Nasal Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Associated Necrosis

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Abstract

Though a life-saving modality in neonatal intensive care units, nasal continuous positive airway pressure (nCPAP) carries a small risk of irreversible ischemia and necrosis of the columella due to the configuration of the pressure delivery system. Iatrogenic injuries to the columella after nCPAP use result in a spectrum of disfigurement and functional airway obstruction. The authors performed a retrospective review of patients evaluated for nCPAP-related columellar deformities by the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the authors’ institution over a 10-year period to assess reconstructive outcomes. Of 7 patients evaluated, 3 underwent reconstruction using a combination of cartilaginous framework reshaping and local tissue flaps. After a mean follow-up period of 78 months, patients had satisfactory aesthetic and functional results. Based on the authors’ observations, columellar necrosis secondary to nCPAP can be divided into 3 categories: Type A demonstrates mild notching of the columella; Type B has an absent columella without notable nasal tip depression; Type C has an absent columella with nasal tip depression, with or without external nasal valve obstruction. Reconstructive needs should be individually tailored based on the degree of nasal tip depression, cartilaginous support, and soft tissue availability.

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