BACKGROUND: Bilateral cleft lip-cleft palate is associated with nasal deformities typified by a short columella. The authors compared nasal outcomes of cleft patients treated with banked fork flaps to those of patients who underwent nasoalveolar molding and primary retrograde nasal reconstruction. METHODS: A retrospective review of 26 consecutive patients with bilateral cleft lip-cleft palate was performed. Group 1 patients (n = 13) had a cleft lip repair and nasal correction with banked fork flaps. Group 2 patients (n = 13) had nonsurgical columellar elongation with nasoalveolar molding followed by cleft lip closure and primary retrograde nasal correction. Group 3 patients (n = 13) were age-matched controls. Columellar length was measured at presentation and at 3 years of age. The number of nasal operations was recorded to 9 years. The Kruskal-Wallis and Tukey-Kramer tests were used for statistical analysis. RESULTS: Initial columellar length was 0.49 ± 0.37 mm in group 1 and 0.42 ± 0.62 mm in group 2. Post-nasoalveolar molding columellar length was 4.5 ± 0.76 mm in group 2. By 3 years of age, columellar length was 3.03 ± 1.47 mm in group 1, 5.98 ± 1.09 mm in group 2, and 6.35 ± 0.99 mm in group 3. Group 2 columellar length was significantly greater (p < 0.001) than that of group 1 and not statistically different from that of group 3 (p > 0.05). All group 1 patients (13 of 13) needed secondary nasal surgery. No nasoalveolar molding patients (zero of 13, group 2) required secondary nasal surgery. CONCLUSION: Nonsurgical columellar elongation with nasoalveolar molding followed by primary retrograde nasal reconstruction restored columellar length to normal by 3 years and significantly reduced the need for secondary nasal surgery.
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