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J Craniofac Surg. 2009 Sep;20(5):1327-33. doi: 10.1097/SCS.0b013e3181ae4115.

Nasal tip complications of primary cleft lip nasoplasty.

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Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Cleft-Craniofacial Center, University of Pittsburgh, 45th St and Penn Ave., Pittsburgh, PA, USA.



Complications of primary nasoplasty, at the time of definitive primary cheiloplasty, are underreported in the literature. This study endeavors to examine the occurrences of these complications at our cleft-craniofacial center, in an effort to identify causative factors and management strategies. A case series of patients with postoperative nasal complications after primary cleft lip nasal surgery is presented.


A retrospective chart review of primary cleft lip nasal repairs was conducted at our cleft-craniofacial center between January 2003 and December 2007. Consecutive cases of 3 staff surgeons were evaluated. Specific data points included number and type of complications, subsequent required interventions, and relevant history, with particular attention paid to the details of the primary nasoplasty.


Eighty-six primary cleft lip nasoplasties were completed between the years 2003 and 2007. Six complications (6.9%) related to the primary cleft lip nasoplasty were identified. Four patients (4.6%) experienced nasal tip infections; all 4 required surgical drainage. Twenty-four patients (27.9%) undergoing primary cleft lip and nose repair had postoperative nostril conformers placed, and 2 (8.3%) of them experienced complications deemed conformer related.


Postoperative nasal complications of primary cheiloplasty occur and are likely underreported. In this series, complications resulted from infection, often occurring late, and secondary to the use of nostril conformers. Surgeon awareness and caregiver education, to identify the early signs of postoperative nasal complications, are critical to the successful treatment of these occurrences. Although this study did not intend on examining antibiotic use, the significance of nasal tip infections might support the regular use of antibiotics in this population, and the use of postoperative nostril conformers must be followed closely.

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