Cleft lip and palate (CLP) is a common congenital anomaly. Efficient surgical management of CLP is challenging in severe cases with wide clefts. Use of primary vomer flap simultaneous with cleft lip repair is effective in some cases, but remains a challenging topic.
This study evaluated 81 non-syndromic CLP patients with extensive palatal cleft and no other underlying condition. Thirty-nine patients (group A) who were infants over 6 months of age underwent primary vomer flap during lip repair to decrease the size of their extensive palatal cleft. The results in this group were compared with group B (n=42) who did not receive primary vomer flap.
Comparison of the two groups showed that although maxillary growth impairment and maxillary constriction had a higher frequency in group A, the palatal cleft was smaller among them, which enabled easier and more efficient cleft repair in the next step. The difference in maxillary growth impairment was not significant between the two groups. However, the prevalence of some complications such as velopharyngeal incompetence and maxillary growth impairment was slightly higher in group A compared with group B.
Use of primary vomer flap at the time of lip repair can decrease the size of palatal cleft and enhance its later closure. However, since impairment of the maxillary growth was slightly (but insignificantly) higher in the vomer flap group, it should be performed at ages over 6 months of age, and in certain cases.