The purpose of this study was to examine the three-dimensional characteristics of the palatal configurations in incomplete unilateral cleft lip and palate (UCLP) patients and to determine whether there are differences in the effect of early orthopedic treatment between complete and incomplete UCLP patients.
Eight infants with incomplete UCLP and 12 infants with complete UCLP, selected at random, wore Hotz plates, and 8 other infants with complete UCLP did not. Palatal impressions were taken of these patients immediately after birth and at 1, 2, 3, 4 (just before cheiloplasty), 6, and 18 months of age (just before palatoplasty). Using our measuring system, the palatal casts were measured and compared three-dimensionally.
The palate of the incomplete UCLP patients measured immediately after birth, compared with complete UCLP, showed: (1) smaller posterior arch width; (2) sagittal arch length did not differ; (3) incisal point was located more mesially; (4) the gap between the alveolar arch forms of the major and minor segments was smaller; and (5) the curvature of the palatal surface forward the nasal cavity in the minor segment was less. At 18 months of age, the following characteristics could be observed: (1) the difference observed at birth in the posterior arch width between the incomplete and complete UCLP infants vanished; (2) a significant difference in the location of the incisal point was observed only between the incomplete UCLP infants and the complete UCLP infants with a Hotz plate; and (3) the curvature was less in the incomplete UCLP infants than in the complete UCLP infants. Furthermore, the morphological change of the palatal surface was less in the incomplete UCLP infants than in the complete UCLP infants. This suggested that any influence of the Hotz appliance might be less in incomplete UCLP than in complete UCLP.