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Background: The purpose of this prospective study was to evaluate craniofacial morphology in children with complete unilateral cleft lip and palate treated at the Brussels cleft center after a 1-stage complete closure at 3 months and compare the results with a series of children operated on at 3 and 6 months of age according to the Malek surgical protocol.

Methods: A series of 72 consecutive patients who were operated on for nonsyndromic complete unilateral cleft lip and palate were included in this study at approximately the age of 10 years. Thirty-four were treated according to the Malek surgical treatment protocol: the soft palate was closed at a mean (SD) age of 3.04 (0.20) months, followed by simultaneous repair of the lip and hard palate at 6.15 (0.67) months. Thirty-eight underwent 1-stage all-in-one (AIO) closure of the lip and hard and soft palates at 2.98 (0.16) months. Craniofacial morphology was evaluated by means of a digital cephalometric analysis. Cephalometric data were compared with a noncleft control group (n = 40) matched according to age. The same 2 series of children were followed up until 15 years of age, and the results were again compared.

Results: Statistical analysis (analysis of variance with post hoc Tukey test) showed in both groups who were operated on a decreased anteroposterior growth compared with the children without cleft at 10 years but the AIO group only was not different from the group without cleft. The maxillary (MxPI/SN) plane was significantly (P = 0.002) increased in the Malek cleft group compared with the AIO group with cleft. At 15 years of age, a difference was not observed anymore between the 2 groups for the anteroposterior growth or for the maxillary plane inclination.

Conclusions: One-stage AIO closure based on the Malek surgical principles provided good anteroposterior midfacial morphology and resulted in less opening of the maxillary plane to the anterior cranial base.

(C) 2009 Mutaz B. Habal, MD