The purpose of this study was to assess the three-dimensional (3-D) facial and alveolar morphology of patients with unilateral clefts of lip, alveolus and palate by means of a computer-aided diagnosis system.
Maxillary orthopaedic treatment was performed using soft/hard acrylic plates (Hotz's) within 2 weeks of birth. The nasolabial and alveolar morphology of 15 patients was evaluated before orthopaedic treatment (2 weeks of age) and before cheiloplasty (3 months of age). Nasolabial form was measured using a 3-D optical scanner. Twenty-one landmarks were extracted from the data and analysed linearly and angularly. Alveolar forms were measured with a high-accuracy contact-type 3-D digitizer on plaster casts. Seven landmarks were digitized and analysed linearly and angularly.
Some growth was observed in the intercanthal distance, alar width, intercommissural width, and height of the lip. There was little change in the width of the cleft lip or displacement of the columella base, while the alveolar cleft narrowed.
Presurgical orthopaedics reduces cleft width and makes subsequent surgery easier.