Presurgical Nasoalveolar Molding for Cleft Lip and Palate: The Application of Digitally Designed Molds

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Abstract

Background:

The authors present a novel nasoalveolar molding protocol by prefabricating sets of nasoalveolar molding appliances using three-dimensional technology.

Methods:

Prospectively, 17 infants with unilateral complete cleft lip and palate underwent the authors’ protocol before primary cheiloplasty. An initial nasoalveolar molding appliance was created based on the patient’s first and only in-person maxillary cast, produced from a traditional intraoral dental impression. Thereafter, each patient’s molding course was simulated using computer software that aimed to narrow the alveolar gap by 1 mm each week by rotating the greater alveolar segment. A maxillary cast of each predicted molding stage was created using three-dimensional printing. Subsequent appliances were constructed in advance, based on the series of computer-generated casts. Each patient had a total three clinic visits spaced 1 month apart. Anthropometric measurements and bony segment volumes were recorded before and after treatment.

Results:

Alveolar cleft widths narrowed significantly (p < 0.01), soft-tissue volume of each segment expanded (p < 0.01), and the arc of the alveolus became more contiguous across the cleft (p < 0.01). One patient required a new appliance at the second visit because of bleeding and discomfort. Eleven patients had mucosal irritation and two experienced minor mucosal ulceration.

Conclusions:

Three-dimensional technology can precisely represent anatomic structures in pediatric clefts. Results from the authors’ algorithm are equivalent to those of traditional nasoalveolar molding therapies; however, the number of required clinic visits and appliance adjustments decreased. As three-dimensional technology costs decrease, multidisciplinary teams may design customized nasoalveolar molding treatment with improved efficiency and less burden to medical staff, patients, and families.

CLINICAL QUESTION/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:

Therapeutic, IV.

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