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Plast Reconstr Surg. 1989 May;83(5):777-84.

Pathophysiology of cleft lip muscle.

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Division of Plastic Surgery, Stanford University Medical School, Calif.


Although attention has been focused for decades on the correction of cleft lip deformities, our knowledge about the etiology of such deformities has remained presumptive. Sixty-six muscle biopsy specimens from cleft lip infants were obtained at the time of primary closure. Histochemical stains, histographic analysis, and electron microscopy were performed. A nonneurogenic muscle atrophy was seen that varied in severity, with muscle fibers near the cleft being the most atrophic and disorganized. Muscle fibers stained with the modified Gomori trichrome technique also demonstrated "ragged red" fibers typical of a mitochondrial myopathy. Electron microscopy confirmed large accumulations of mitochondria distorting the fibrils. These mitochondria also were increased in size and densely packed with cristae. This study thus demonstrates that the muscles in cleft lip deformities are not normal. Instead, they reflect either myopathy in the facial mesenchymal mitochondrion or at least a delay in maturation. We hypothesize that some of the morphologic deformities associated with cleft lip may cause a failure of mesenchymal reinforcement of the facial processes at a critical time in development.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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