Cleft palate or palatoschisis is a common genetic abnormality that leads to a horde of problems and is presently a growing challenge to medicine practitioners. The major developmental stages affected due to this particular irregularity include feeding, speech development, dentition and maxillofacial growth which are rather important to the normal overall developmental pace of an individual. Even though the cleft palate deformity was defined centuries ago, no fixed management algorithm exists for patients suffering from the condition in the present day scenario.
Cleft palate may be successfully fixed using reconstructive surgery. Multiple specialists are involved in the reconstruction surgery including plastic surgeons, otolaryngologists, nutritionists, oromaxillofacial surgeons and speech pathologists. Some hospitals also consider psychological therapy for the patient and the family to help get through the emotional trauma and the issues faced due to developmental backlogs.
The treatment for cleft palate usually begins around 9 to 12 months of age. If left untreated, it may cause major deformities. It takes about some years before the whole procedure is completed although it depends on the type and severity of the deformity.
The process involves the administration of anaesthesia after which the palate repair closes the inner, middle and final layers and at the same time realigning of the palatal muscles in a technique called anintravelarveloplasty is conducted. This ensures that the muscles are adjusted in a normal position which facilitates the best functioning of the palate during feeding, swallowing and speaking. It is possible that the child might require more than one surgery to completely close the palate.
Some of the risks involved during the process include:
1. Abnormal reactions to the medications
3. Problems in breathing
4. Need for more surgery
Although complicated and time consuming, cleft palate must be given immediate attention to avoid serious developmental issues. The reconstruction surgery and therapy combined ensures a normal development for the child in the longer run, given the surgery was done at the correct time. The child would be required to remain at the hospital for about 5-7 days. Complete recovery takes a time period of 4 weeks. Keeping the wound of the surgery clean is of the utmost importance and it should not be strained.