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Plast Reconstr Surg. 1998 Apr;101(4):951-63.

Maxillary distraction: aesthetic and functional benefits in cleft lip-palate and prognathic patients during mixed dentition.

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Department of Plastic Surgery, Postgraduate Division of the Medical School, at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico, DF.


In the last few years, distraction techniques have been used successfully to correct the hypoplastic human mandible. In patients with cleft lip and palate, normal growth of the maxilla may be impaired by early cleft repair, and many of them do not respond to orthodontic procedures alone. Maxillary distraction is an alternative technique to correct maxillary hypoplasia during mixed dentition. In the last 3 years, the procedure was performed in 38 patients aged between 6 and 12 years; 18 patients had unilateral cleft lip and palate, 9 patients had bilateral cleft lip and palate, 7 patients had unilateral cleft palate, 2 patients had prognathism, and 2 patients had nasomaxillary dysplasia. Photographs, posteroanterior and lateral cephalograms, and dental models are obtained preoperatively (as well as an orthopantomogram) to locate the tooth buds. A subperiosteal dissection is performed exposing the anterior and lateral aspects of the maxilla, and an incomplete horizontal osteotomy is done above the tooth buds. Using a facial mask and an intraoral fixed appliance system as an anchorage, we initiate on the fifth postoperative day the application of distraction forces. Maxillary advancement between 4 and 12 mm is achieved during 3 to 4 weeks, and a satisfactory class I or II molar relationship is also obtained. A combination of forward and downward distraction forces can be used to achieve simultaneous advancement and elongation of the hypoplasic maxilla. The aesthetic results are excellent, and the nasolabial angle is increased, including a more anterior projection of the upper lip. Nasal breathing is improved as well as the air flow and patency of the nasal airway. Velopharyngeal function remains unchanged after the procedure. The follow-up in this series varied from 6 months to 3 years. No relapses have been observed.

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