Airway obstruction risk in unique infant cleft phenotype: PSIO protocol modification recommendations


Division of Pediatric Plastic Surgery, Advocate Children's Hospital


Patients presenting with a unique unilateral cleft phenotype may be at risk of nasal airway obstruction which can be exacerbated by presurgical infant orthopedic (PSIO) appliance therapy and lip taping. Four patients presented to the UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Cleft-Craniofacial Center with a cleft phenotype characterized by: An anteriorly projected greater alveolar segment and medial collapse of the lesser segment posteriorly, leading to cleft alar base displacement posteromedial to the anteriorly projected greater segment. Resultant bilateral nasal airway obstruction: cleft ala drape over the leading edge of the greater segment's alveolus (cleft side obstruction) and caudal septum displacement secondary to attachments to the orbicularis oris from the noncleft side (noncleft side obstruction). The patient described presented at 3 months old from an outside institution, where PSIO therapy was undertaken. A second opinion was sought due to concern of significant difficulty in breathing and feeding with the PSIO oral plate. Lip-nose adhesion (LNA) was elected and airway obstruction was immediately relieved after this intervention. Lip-nose adhesion releases the tethered cleft side alar base from the pyriform rim of the posteromedially collapsed lesser segment and unites the superior lip and nostril sill-relieving the cleft side nostril obstruction. During the LNA, the caudal septum is surgically released from the anterior nasal spine and is uprighted, relieving the obstructed noncleft nostril. In this cleft anatomy, the treatment alternatives of modification to the PSIO appliance or LNA should be carefully considered in consultation with the surgeon, PSIO provider, and the infant's caretakers.

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