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J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2012 Jan;70(1):211-5. doi: 10.1016/j.joms.2011.02.044. Epub 2011 Jun 17.

Anterior versus posterior approach to iliac crest for alveolar cleft bone grafting.

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  • 1Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Boston, MA, USA.



The goal of this study was to compare perioperative outcomes for the anterior versus posterior approach to the iliac crest for alveolar bone grafting in patients with cleft lip and palate (CLP).


A retrospective cohort study of patients with CLP who had an anterior or posterior iliac crest bone graft during a 10-year period was performed. Available medical records were reviewed and the outcome variables documented included the operation site for bone graft procurement (anterior or posterior), estimated blood loss, duration of operation, concurrent procedures, and length of hospital stay. The 2 groups were compared by t test, Fisher exact test, and multivariate regression to show differences.


There were 239 patients with CLP who had an iliac crest bone graft to the alveolar cleft; 133 had an anterior and 106 a posterior approach for bone graft procurement. The mean estimated blood loss was significantly less with the posterior approach (85 vs 177 mL; P < .0001). The mean operation duration with the posterior approach was longer (4.6 vs 3.5 hours; P < .0001). Most patients in this group (67%), however, had 2 or more additional procedures during the same anesthetic, whereas only 16% of patients in the anterior group had 2 or more additional procedures. The mean length of stay was significantly shorter for the posterior approach (1.7 vs 2.2 days; P < .0001).


These results suggest that patients having a bone graft from the posterior iliac crest have a smaller estimated blood loss and a shorter length of stay. In addition, this approach permits repair of the alveolar cleft and additional procedures, including augmentation of the median tubercle and correction of nasolabial distortions, which are often present in patients with CLP.

Copyright © 2012 American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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