Pediatric Feeding Disorder and Growth Decline following Mandibular Distraction Osteogenesis

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Mandibular distraction osteogenesis has proven to be an effective treatment for upper airway obstruction related to micrognathia. Changes in the aerodigestive space can help facilitate tracheostomy removal in children and prevent tracheostomy in newborns. However, this may also precipitate changes in the ability to orally feed. There are few data on early postoperative feeding and growth rate following mandibular lengthening. The authors found evidence of growth rate decline and feeding difficulty in pediatric patients following mandibular distraction osteogenesis.


Ten pediatric patients underwent mandibular distraction osteogenesis for treatment of upper airway obstruction. Outcomes in resolution of upper airway obstruction, oral feeding success, and growth rate were analyzed. Follow-up ranged from 12 to 28 months.


All 10 patients had complete resolution of upper airway obstruction. The length of distraction ranged from 10 to 17 mm. Three patients demonstrated a feeding disorder after mandibular distraction osteogenesis, defined as requiring a long-term (>1 month) alternate feeding method (gastric tube in two patients and gastric gavage in one). Seven of 10 patients exhibited an early decline in growth rate following distraction. Data used to determine growth rate changes were weight measurements at the time of distraction, at the time of distractor removal (6 to 8 weeks after distraction), and at 6 and 12 months after the date of distraction initiation.


These results suggest that infants and children undergoing mandibular lengthening by distraction osteogenesis should be carefully monitored for postdistraction feeding disorder and growth rate disturbance.

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