Early placement of ventilation tubes in cleft lip and palate patients: does palatal closure affect tube occlusion and short-term outcome?

Tuomas Klockars, Jorma Rautio
International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology 2012, 76 (10): 1481-4

OBJECTIVES: Otitis media with effusion is almost universal in children with cleft palate due to the poor function of the Eustachian tube. Our study investigates the functioning of ventilation tubes placed at the time of primary cleft surgery (4 months of age) and at the time of secondary surgery (12 months of age). We compared two different surgical protocols: (Leg A) closure of the lip and soft palate at the age of 3-4 months (primary surgery) and closure of the hard palate at the age of 12 months (secondary surgery), and (Leg C) closure of the lip at the age of 3-4 months (primary surgery) and closure of the hard and soft palate at the age of 12 months (secondary surgery).

METHODS: A retrospective review of the medical records of 97 Finnish children with unilateral cleft lip and palate (UCLP) included in the Scandcleft study and randomized into two groups.

RESULTS: The majority (63%) of cleft (lip and) palate children benefit from early placement of ventilation tubes, and this group is even larger with early closure of the soft palate (86%; p=0.02). Closure of the soft palate at four months of age also reduces the frequency of OME in ears with the tube extruded or occluded, thus indicating better function of the Eustachian tube (p=0.02).

CONCLUSIONS: Early tympanostomy tube placement should be considered in children with cleft lip and palate, even prior to palatal closure.

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