Authors – Singh GD, Levy-Bercowski D, Yáñez MA, Santiago PE
Objective – To evaluate three-dimensional (3D) facial morphology in patients surgically corrected for unilateral cleft lip and palate (UCLP) following pre-surgical nasoalveolar molding (NAM).
Design – Prospective, longitudinal study. Digital stereophotogrammetry was used to capture 3D facial images, and x, y, and z coordinates of five landmarks were digitized to compute mean morphologies. The sample comprised 15 patients with left UCLP and 10 matched control subjects. Facial form differences at age 37 weeks, using principal components analysis and finite-element scaling analysis (FESA) were assessed.
Results – Using the first two principal components, which accounted for 63% of the total shape-change, UCLP and control groups showed similar distributions in the modal space (p > 0.05). For the UCLP group, the mean 3D facial form was smaller and less protrusive when superimposed on the non-cleft mean. Using FESA, reductions in facial volume were found in the UCLP group, involving the columella (29%), labial tubercle (51%), lower lip (29%) and lateral aspects of the face (19%). The UCLP group also showed increases in size above the tip of the nose (25%) and laterally to the columella directly below the nares (29%).
Conclusions – Following surgical repair of UCLP in patients previously treated with NAM, 3D facial morphology was virtually indistinguishable from the non-cleft mean. Clinically, the apparent improvement in the facial soft tissues may mask dysmorphic skeletal growth, and further studies are required to characterize the underlying bony changes associated with the soft tissue changes reported here.