Primary Premaxillary Setback and Repair of Bilateral Complete Cleft Lip: Indications, Technique, and Outcomes

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To analyze indications and outcomes for primary premaxillary setback.




Academic children's hospital.


All children with bilateral complete cleft lip age ≤2 years of age who had premaxillary setback by one surgeon (1992 to 2011).


Twenty-five patients with bilateral complete cleft lip underwent primary premaxillary setback at an average age of 9 months; the mean follow-up was 47 months. There were three indications: failed dentofacial orthopedics (n = 9), delayed referral precluding manipulation (n = 10), and intact secondary alate (n = 6). Of 19 patients with bilateral complete cleft lip/palate, primary setback was combined with nasolabial repair (n =11), adhesions (n=2), or palatoplasty (n = 6). Patients who had nasolabial closure and setback were significantly younger than those who had combined palatal closure and setback (6.5 versus 16 months, P = .01). No patient exhibited postoperative premaxillary instability. Serial anthropometry showed similar growth of nasolabial features after both primary setback (n=9) and active dentofacial orthopedics (n=35).


Primary premaxillary ostectomy and setback permits synchronous bilateral nasolabial-alveolar closure or alveolar-palatal repair in a child with intact secondary palate. This procedure should be considered whenever dentofacial orthopedics cannot be accomplished. Speech is paramount in an older child; setback with palatal closure is scheduled before nasolabial repair. Disturbance of midfacial growth is likely following primary premaxillary ostectomy and setback in patients with bilateral complete cleft lip/palate; however, most already need maxillary advancement. Furthermore, premaxillary setback permits proper primary nasolabial design and construction in appreciation of expected changes with growth.

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