Three-dimensional assessment of facial morphology in infants with cleft lip and palate
Differential growth was demonstrated between facial features and within some facial features. In particular, the columella, nostrils and philtrum did not grow significantly after surgery, although this would be considered normal in the age group studied. Facial growth in children with UCL and UCLP was independent of the head and body growth. The presence of a cleft of the secondary palate accentuated the amount of soft tissue disruption by the cleft in the lip and nose, but not the pattern of disruption. Primary lip / nose repair had no detrimental effect on the early growth and development of the facial features. Likewise, palate repair had no discernible effect on facial soft tissue growth at age 2 years. Primary lip /nose repair had a beneficial effect on facial morphology in terms of reducing asymmetry and was most successful in the improving philtrum and nasal base symmetry, less successful in improving the nasal rim asymmetry. A possible early beneficial effect of cleft repair remote from the surgery site was noted in the reduction of upper face asymmetry in the first year of life. Residual asymmetry in the facial features did not change by age 2 years, despite increases in size with growth. Facial morphology outcomes for UCL and UCLP children in this study was generally similar at 2 years of age, despite marked differences in pre-operative facial form. However, nasal base asymmetry, upper face asymmetry and residual nostril shape deformity were significantly greater in UCLP children at 2 years of age, than in UCL children. These shape differences were not detectable by measurement of facial dimensions alone.