Cleft lip and cleft palate, also known as orofacial cleft, is a group of conditions that includes cleft lip (CL), cleft palate (CP), and both together (CLP). A cleft lip contains an opening in the upper lip that may extend into the nose. The opening may be on one side, both sides, or in the middle. A cleft palate is when the roof of the mouth contains an opening into the nose. These disorders can result in feeding problems, speech problems, hearing problems, and frequent ear infections. Less than half the time the condition is associated with other disorders.
Cleft lip and palate are the result of tissues of the face not joining properly during development. s such, they are a type of birth defect. The cause is unknown in most cases. Risk factors include smoking during pregnancy, diabetes, obesity, an older mother, and certain medications. Cleft lip and cleft palate can often be diagnosed during pregnancy with an ultrasound exam.
If the cleft does not affect the palate structure of the mouth, it is referred to as cleft lip. Cleft lip is formed in the top of the lip as either a small gap or an indentation in the lip (partial or incomplete cleft), or it continues into the nose (complete cleft). Lip cleft can occur as a one-sided (unilateral) or two-sided (bilateral) condition. It is due to the failure of fusion of the maxillary and medial nasal processes (formation of the primary palate).
A mild form of a cleft lip is a microform cleft. A microform cleft can appear as small as a little dent in the red part of the lip or look like a scar from the lip up to the nostril. In some cases muscle tissue in the lip underneath the scar is affected and might require reconstructive surgery. It is advised to have newborn infants with a microform cleft checked with a craniofacial team as soon as possible to determine the severity of the cleft.
Cleft may cause problems with feeding, ear disease, speech and socialization. Due to lack of suction, an infant with a cleft may have trouble feeding. An infant with a cleft palate will have greater success feeding in a more upright position. Gravity will help prevent milk from coming through the baby's nose if he/she has cleft palate.
Individuals with cleft also face many middle ear infections which may eventually lead to hearing loss. The Eustachian tubes and external ear canals may be angled or tortuous, leading to food or other contamination of a part of the body that is normally self- cleaning. Hearing is related to learning to speak. Babies with palatal clefts may have compromised hearing and therefore, if the baby cannot hear, it cannot try to mimic the sounds of speech. Thus, even before expressive language acquisition, the baby with the cleft palate is at risk for receptive language acquisition. Because the lips and palate are both used in pronunciation, individuals with cleft usually need the aid of a speech therapist.
Traditionally, the diagnosis is made at the time of birth by physical examination. Recent advances in prenatal diagnosis have allowed obstetricians to diagnose facial clefts in utero with ultrasonography. Clefts can also affect other parts of the face, such as the eyes, ears, nose, cheeks, and forehead.
Cleft lip and palate is very treatable; however, the kind of treatment depends on the type and severity of the cleft.
Most children with a form of clefting are monitored by a cleft palate team or craniofacial team through young adulthood. Care can be lifelong. Treatment procedures can vary between craniofacial teams. For example, some teams wait on jaw correction until the child is aged 10 to 12 (argument: growth is less influential as deciduous teeth are replaced by permanent teeth, thus saving the child from repeated corrective surgeries), while other teams correct the jaw earlier (argument: less speech therapy is needed than at a later age when speech therapy becomes harder). Within teams, treatment can differ between individual cases depending on the type and severity of the cleft.
Within the first 2-3 months after birth, surgery is performed to close the cleft lip. While surgery to repair a cleft lip can be performed soon after birth, often the preferred age is at approximately 10 weeks of age. f the cleft is bilateral and extensive, two surgeries may be required to close the cleft, one side first, and the second side a few weeks later. The most common procedure to repair a cleft lip is the Millard procedure. Often an incomplete cleft lip requires the same surgery as complete cleft. This is done for two reasons. Firstly the group of muscles required to purse the lips run through the upper lip. In order to restore the complete group a full incision must be made. Secondly, to create a less obvious scar the surgeon tries to line up the scar with the natural lines in the upper lip (such as the edges of the philtrum) and tuck away stitches as far up the nose as possible. Incomplete cleft gives the surgeon more tissue to work with, creating a more supple and natural-looking upper lip.
Often a cleft palate is temporarily covered by a palatal obturator (a prosthetic device made to fit the roof of the mouth covering the gap). Cleft palate can also be corrected by surgery, usually performed between 6 and 12 months. Approximately 20-25% only require one palatal surgery to achieve a competent velopharyngeal valve capable of producing normal, non-hypernasal speech. However, combinations of surgical methods and repeated surgeries are often necessary as the child grows.
The Latham is surgically inserted by use of pins during the child's 4th or 5th month. After it is in place, the doctor, or parents, turn a screw daily to bring the cleft together to assist with future lip or palate repair.
A facial cleft is an opening or gap in the face, or a malformation of a part of the face. Facial clefts is a collective term for all sorts of clefts. All structures like bone, soft tissue, skin etc. can be affected. Facial clefts are extremely rare congenital anomalies. There are many variations of a type of clefting and classifications are needed to describe and classify all types of clefting. Facial clefts hardly ever occur isolated; most of the time there is an overlap of adjacent facial clefts.
Syndactyly is a condition wherein two or more digits are fused together. It occurs normally in some mammals, such as the siamang and diprotodontia, but is an unusual condition in humans.