Cleft Palate surgery
A cleft palate surgery is useful in treating a case of a cleft palate. A cleft palate is the congenital (birth) defect that results in an abnormal opening being formed in the roof of the mouth.
A cleft palate deformity can include the hard palate that is at the front portion of the roof of the mouth as well as the soft palate that is found in the back portion of the roof of the mouth.
A cleft palate can form on both sides of the mouth and may be accompanied with a cleft lip also.
What are the causes for a Cleft Palate?
Mostly the cause for a cleft palate or a cleft lip is unknown although it is strongly suspected to be related to a combination of environmental and genetic factors. Another potential cause for a cleft palate can be certain medications such as steroids, snit-seizure drugs or acne medications that the mother might be taking during the first trimester of the pregnancy.
Cleft palate is also suspected to develop as a result to exposure to certain chemicals or viruses when the fetus is developing inside the mother.
Cleft palate can give rise to certain problems such as:
Food and drinks may pass from the back of the mouth to the nose due to the large gap between the bone formations of the palate in the roof of the mouth.
Children with a cleft palate are more prone to develop ear infections as there are more chances of fluid accumulation in the middle ear. If left untreated for a long period of time these ear infections can lead to hearing loss in some cases.
Cleft palate, or cleft lip, can cause speaking problems in children as their voices do not carry sufficiently and they might also get a nasal sound with the speech being difficult to understand.
Cleft palate can give rise to a number of cavities than normally seen and can also have missing, extra or malformed teeth which may require to be treated by a pediatric orthodontist.
How is a Cleft Palate diagnosed?
A Cleft palate is easily distinguishable due to its obvious physical signs. Other diagnostic techniques include doing a prenatal ultrasound to determine the presence of cleft palate in the fetus.
What is a Cleft Palate surgery procedure?
A cleft palate surgery is performed by a team of specialists including a cosmetic surgeon, otolaryngologist, oral surgeon, orthodontist, dentist, etc due to the large variety of portions of the mouth that need to be treated during it.
A cleft palate usually requires multiple surgeries performed over a course of 18 years. The initial surgery requires repairing the cleft palate when the baby is between 6-12 months old. This helps to create a normal palate and reduces the chances of fluid accumulation in the middle ear as well as helps in the normal development of the teeth and the facial bones.
Certain cases of cleft palate may require a bone graft at the age of around 8 years to fill the gum line in order to support the growth of permanent teeth as well as to stabilize the upper jaw.
Additional surgeries include procedures to improve the appearance of the lip and nose, close the gap between the mouth and nose and to restore normal breathing functions and to realign and stabilize the jaw.
Additional cosmetic surgery may be performed at the age of 18 years to hide the scars from the surgery.
What are the associated risks and complications of a Cleft Palate surgery?
As is seen in any kind of surgical procedure the cleft palate surgery may also carry risk of:
- Anesthetic allergy
Apart from these common surgical complications a few cases of cleft palate surgery may also give rise to asymmetrical reconstruction of the palate. Scarring may be seen more prominently depending on the quality of the child’s skin. Palate separation is also seen in very rare cases and may require a revision surgery to correct it.
What are the advantages and benefits of a Cleft Palate surgery?
A cleft palate surgery is very beneficial as it helps to mainly improve the appearance of the face. The secondary advantage of a cleft palate surgery is that it allows the child to breathe, talk and eat normally as well as preventing other related complications to develop in the future.