Operation for unilateral cleft lip and palate
Admission to hospital
Your child will be admitted to the Paediatric ward at UZ Leuven, Gasthuisberg campus for both operations. It is always possible for one parent to stay in the child's room. Your child must have nothing to eat or drink after midnight.
- Lip closure.
- Closure of the soft palate and the rear part of the hard palate.
The soft palate and the rear part of the hard palate are closed at the age of 12 months. The front part of the hard palate is left open to allow the soft palate to extend well towards the back and to avoid interfering with the growth of the upper jaw (maxilla) as much as possible. The remaining opening at the front of the hard palate will already have become much smaller by the time it is closed at around 5 years of age.
During the soft palate operation the muscles of the soft palate are carefully aligned and reoriented. The palate is also lengthened as carefully as possible to achieve the best possible closure between the mouth and nasal cavity. It is almost always necessary to insert grommets (eardrum tubes) during this operation as well.
The operation takes two to three hours and the stitches dissolve by themselves after a few weeks. The child will be given a one week course of antibiotics. Your child will also be given painkillers and nose drops. Feeding is allowed immediately on the day after the operation. At first you should give liquid food with a spoon, a syringe or a tipping cup. You are advised not to use a bottle or dummy.
Your child can usually go home on the third day after the operation. By that time feeding will be easy and only simple painkillers may be needed. About 1 month after the operation the wound will be healed and no more special precautions will be needed when feeding.
- Hard palate closure
The opening at the front is closed at about the age of 5 years. This operation is similar to the soft palate closure operation, but it generally seems to be a milder experience. Two days after the operation your toddler can go home.
- Bone graft in the upper jaw (maxilla)