Cleft Palate is a condition when there is a cleft or a gap in the palate or the hard part of the roof of your mouth. This creates a hole or gap between your nose and mouth. Cleft Palate is one of the common birth Face Defects that occurs in close to one in 800 - 1000 live births in North America. Cleft Palate is sometimes associated with eye abnormalities either on the same or on the opposite side or it can be part of a syndrome where there are birth defects in other parts of the body. An adult who has had a surgery for Cleft Palate as a child may have nasal quality to their speech.
Where can I get surgical repair of Cleft Palate?
Cost of procedure performed in the US: $20,000.
All prices are in US dollars and include the cost of the procedure and minimum hospital stay. Estimates and minimum hospital stay will vary depending upon individual needs and requirements.
Cleft Palate is a birth defect which means they occur when the baby is developing inside the mother's womb. The cause for a baby to have Cleft Palate might be genetic (hereditary). Cleft Palate has also been associated with smoking or use of certain medications during pregnancy however, all these associations are inconclusive. Cleft Palate is seen more commonly on males vs. females.
Cleft Palate can be 1) Unilateral Cleft Palate - the gap in the palate on one side of the midline, 2) Bilateral Cleft Palate - the gap in the palate is on both the sides of the midline. Cleft Palate can be 1) Complete Cleft Palate - the gap extends all the way from the upper lip to the floor of the nostril, 2) Incomplete Cleft Palate - the gap does not separate the palatal structures all the way. There is another type of Cleft Palate known as sub-mucous cleft or Invisible Cleft Palate. In this type of Cleft Palate, there is a gap in the soft palate which cannot be seen. Invisible Cleft Palate is much uncommon however, it occurs when the surface tissues are joined together but the underlying musculature is not completely joined, causing a gap which is not visible.This type of invisible Cleft Palate causes a delay in speech and sometimes is the only apparent symptom that might lead to further investigation of this problem.
It is important that several health professionals with different expertise are involved to assess and monitor your child's progress as he / she grows up. The team of health professional for surgical correction and rehabilitation of a child with Cleft Palate will include:
Cleft Palate is usually repaired between 12 - 18 months of age. Your child will be hospitalized the night before for pre-operative assessment like blood and urine testing, and a chest x-ray. You will be instructed not to feed anything to your child for at least 10 hours before the Cleft Palate operation. Also make sure that your child does not have any viral infections like flu, cough, cold or diarrhea.
Depending on the extent of the gap in the roof of the mouth, Cleft Palate repair operation will be done accordingly. Your surgeon will make an incision on both sides of the cleft, moving the tissue from the sides to the midline thus closing the gap in the roof of the mouth. This attempt at restoration of normal anatomy of mouth would hopefully enable your child to eat and speak properly over time. The operation to repair Cleft Palate may take 2 - 3 hours and your child will be required to stay in the hospital for 3 - 4 days.
Your child will feel some pain and soreness following the Cleft Palate surgery. Your child will be irritable and may require some medication to calm down and relieve the pain and soreness which commonly occurs following the operation to repair Cleft Palate. Your surgeon might prescribe antibiotics to minimize the chances of infection while in the hospital. Your surgeon will provide you with instructions on feeding and general care of the baby during the crucial couple of days after surgery for Cleft Palate. It is very important that you follow these instructions closely so that your child's palate heals properly. Your child may have to be put in restraints to make sure he / she does not rub the area with stitches. Your child will be hospitalized for about 4 - 5 days, the stitches need not be opened as they dissolve on it's own after a few days.
The outcome of surgical repair of Cleft Palate is quite satisfactory. Most commonly the defect can be corrected in a single operation, seldom a second operation is required. If the cleft is extensive and cannot be closed in one surgery, then the operation is performed in two stages. There will not be a visible scar however, people who had Cleft Palate which was repaired can be identified by the nasal quality of their voice.
B . R . A . N . D . of surgical repair of Cleft Palate
Your Questions Answered on Cleft Palate
Keywords: Face Defects / Deformities, Rehabilitation, Oral Cavity, Nasal Cavity, Birth Defect, Teething, Speech, Hearing Loss, Ear Infection, Symmetry of Facial Features