Recapitulation of Unilateral Cleft Lip Nasal Deformity on Normal Nasal Structure: A Finite Element Model Analysis

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Abstract

Cleft lip nasal deformity has been challenging to plastic surgeons. A better understanding of the biomechanical aspect of the cleft nose would contribute to a better correction. In this study, finite element model of a normal nose was constructed and loaded with forces to recapitulate the unilateral cleft lip nasal deformity. Tether at the alar base was simulated by a laterally directed force at the lateral crus, and tether at the columella base by a posteriorly directed force at the medial crus. The equivalent von-Mises stress and the total deformation consequent to different patterns of loading were captured. In accordance with clinical observations, unilaterally loaded forces caused deformation on both sides of the nose. A correlation between the patterns of loading and different cleft lip nasal deformities was documented in detail. When set at the same force magnitude, tether at the columella base led to more extensive changes in the nasal morphology and higher level of stress than at the alar base. Clear identification of major pathological tethers in the nasolabial region might lead to more accurate and stable correction of cleft lip nasal deformities.

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