The controversy regarding the timing of repair of the deformities associated with cleft lip and palate still exists. The goal of this article is to present a versatile, universal philosophy of management of these deformities involving early repair.
Over 20 years, 2,698 new patients with cleft lip and palate deformities were treated. These included 1,298 unilateral and 320 bilateral cleft lip and palate patients. The remaining patients (1,018) had isolated palatal clefts. All patients were operated according to the same protocol and the same surgical procedure. The treatment philosophy was based on early, wide myoperiosteal-periosteo-sutural reconstruction by a modified Delaire functional cheilorhinoplasty and alveolar gingivoperiosteoplasty at 3 months, followed by soft and hard functional palatoplasty at 9 months.
All patients were followed longitudinally and retrospectively. The parameters investigated were facial symmetry, presence or absence of growth retardation, and oropharyngeal and nasal function. The parameters studied indicated that when this treatment schedule was followed and the procedures were performed on time and according to the protocol, there was minimal growth retardation of the maxilla. When early gingivoperiosteoplasty was performed in 25% of the patients there was a sufficient amount of alveolar bone for eruption of the primary and permanent dentition. This negated the need for secondary alveolar bone grafting. The development of the upper lip was harmonious, and usually no further corrective procedures were necessary. The nose was usually well developed and functionally normal.
Optimal rehabilitation of the patients was achieved by following the principles and treatment strategies described. If the treatment principles are not incorporated in the functional repair (ie, joining of the primary and the secondary growth centers during corrective procedures), compromised results are to be expected.