[Positioning of the premaxilla in cases of bilateral cleft lip, alveolus and palate using Latham's appliance]

K Schwenzer, C Holberg, C Hagenmaier, M Bacher, B Kunz, C P Cornelius, N Schwenzer, M Ehrenfeld
Mund-, Kiefer- und Gesichtschirurgie: MKG 2003, 7 (1): 25-30

UNLABELLED: SUBJECT MATTER: In cases of bilateral cleft lip, alveolus and palate, preoperative positioning of the premaxilla using Latham's appliance has been described. This method is controversial, since it may cause growth defects.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: From 1992 to 2000, Latham's appliance was inserted preoperatively into 20 patients with bilateral lip, alveolus and palate clefts with extreme premaxillary protrusion. Pin fixation ensued at the age of 3 months. After adjustment of the premaxilla, the soft palate was closed and bilateral lip adhesion as well as bilateral gingivoperiosteoplasty were performed directly after the removal of the appliance. Final lip closure took place 4-6 weeks later. At the age of 2 years, the hard palate was closed. Evaluation was based on combined face-maxilla models, standard photographs and, when available, lateral skull x-rays showing the relative position of the segments, the influence of Latham's appliance on the nasal septum and the relation of the upper jaw to the skull base and mandibula.

RESULTS: In all cases, a satisfactory alveolar alignment was achieved; thickening and curvature of the nasal septum occurred but receded. Neither growth disturbances nor dental germ damage were seen. In two cases, complications arose from suture dehiscence of the lip adhesion: in one patient, a screw defect caused a loosening of the appliance and there was also a transmigration of the postpremaxillary pin.

CONCLUSIONS: On the basis of our experience, the use of Latham's appliance, combined with consistent orthodontic supervision and, if necessary, treatment, represents a practical option for the treatment of bilateral cleft lip, alveolus and palate, especially in cases with extreme protrusion of the premaxilla.

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