Revision Lingual Frenotomy Improves Patient-Reported Breastfeeding Outcomes: A Prospective Cohort Study

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Abstract

Background:

Lingual frenotomy improves patient-reported outcome measures, including infant reflux and maternal nipple pain, and prolongs the nursing relationship; however, many mother–infant dyads continue to experience breastfeeding difficulty despite having had a frenotomy.

Research aim:

The aim of this study was to determine how incomplete release of the tethered lingual frenulum may result in persistent breastfeeding difficulties.

Methods:

A one-group, observational, prospective cohort study was conducted. The sample consisted of breastfeeding mother–infant (0-9 months of age) dyads (N = 54) after the mothers self-elected completion lingual frenotomy and/or maxillary labial frenectomy following prior lingual frenotomy performed elsewhere. Participants completed surveys preoperatively, 1-week postoperatively, and 1-month postoperatively consisting of the Breastfeeding Self-Efficacy Scale–Short-Form (BSES-SF), Visual Analog Scale (VAS) for nipple pain severity, and the Revised Infant Gastroesophageal Reflux Questionnaire (I-GERQ-R).

Results:

Significant postoperative improvements were reported between mean preoperative scores compared with 1-week and 1-month scores of the BSES-SF, F(2) = 41.2, p < .001; the I-GERQ-R, F(2) = 22.7, p < .001; and VAS pain scale, F(2) = 46.1, p < .001.

Conclusion:

We demonstrated that besides nipple pain, measures of infant reflux symptoms and maternal breastfeeding self-confidence can improve following full release of the lingual frenulum. Additionally, a patient population was identified that could benefit from increased scrutiny of infant tongue function when initial frenotomy fails to improve breastfeeding symptoms.

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