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J Craniofac Surg. 2004 Sep;15(5):819-23.

Outcomes of tongue-lip adhesion for neonatal respiratory distress caused by Pierre Robin sequence.

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Department of Plastic Surgery, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53226, USA.


Tongue-lip adhesion can be effective in relieving tongue-based airway obstruction in the neonatal period. However, longitudinal evaluation of these patients demonstrates they require additional procedures for ultimate control of their airway, feeding, and orthognathic relationship. Charts of patients with Pierre Robin sequence who underwent unsuccessful nonoperative treatment and tongue-lip adhesion procedures by the senior author between 1989 to 1999 were reviewed. In particular, secondary interventions were quantified and qualified to determine if tongue-lip adhesion was a definitive treatment of the pathology caused by this sequence. Eleven patients with ages ranging from 2 to 6 weeks underwent initial tongue-lip adhesion. Seven patients were syndromic (3 Stickler's, 1 Goldenhar's, 1 Fragile X, 1 Miller's, 1 chromosome 15 rearrangement), and four had isolated Pierre Robin sequence. Two patients had dehiscence of their initial repair within 2 weeks, for a primary surgical success rate of 82%, consistent with other published reports. A detailed follow-up of these patients revealed that 10 of 11 (91%) required additional intervention for airway or feeding issues. Of those requiring secondary intervention, an additional 1.9 secondary procedures were performed per patient to achieve control of the airway, feeding, and orthognathic problems. More than half of the patients needed gastrostomy tubes to overcome feeding difficulties. Five patients necessitated secondary surgery for recurrent airway obstruction within 4 months of the initial surgical treatment (four distractions and one repeat tongue-lip adhesion). Four others required distraction at an older age for orthognathic indications. Two patients were successfully treated with tongue-lip adhesion only. Tongue-lip adhesion has a high initial success rate for correction of neonatal airway obstruction. However, long-term follow-up indicates a high incidence of secondary intervention requirements. In retrospect, perhaps tongue-lip adhesion should be considered a temporizing procedure for most patients with Pierre Robin sequence.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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