Delayed hard palate repair (DHPR) is believed by many researchers to improve maxillary growth and facial appearance in patients born with cleft lip and palate. However, only few studies dealing with the midfacial growth outcome after this type of surgery in bilateral cleft patients have been published.
The purpose of this retrospective study was to compare long-term results of maxillary morphology, dental arches and occlusion in two groups of patients with bilateral cleft lip and palate. The palatal surgery differed between the two groups, particularly with respect to the timing of hard palate repair. The DHPR group (n = 16) underwent soft palate closure at 12 months and hard palate repair at around 8 years, whereas the early palatal repair group (EPR) (n = 12) had completed two-stage palatal closure during the first year of life. These latter subjects had undergone more traditional palatal surgery with vomer flaps for repair of the anterior part and push-back closure for the posterior part of the cleft. Surgery was performed in both groups by the same surgical team at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Göteborg, Sweden. Dental casts were used to analyze the pre- and postoperative maxillary morphology, dental arch dimensions, and occlusion of both samples, which were followed longitudinally from infancy to early adulthood.
Differences recorded in both maxillary growth and occlusion were generally in favor of the DHPR group. However, major intragroup variations and relatively small sample sizes precluded statistical verification of the differences, except for development during the early stages.