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New method to fix cleft palate shows promise in Mayo Clinic lab study

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- Results from a Mayo Clinic laboratory study in animals suggest that using distraction osteogenesis, a procedure that uses the mechanical force of an appliance to lengthen soft tissue and bone, may be a feasible and effective method to repair cleft palate in the future. Cleft palate is a common birth defect in which a child is born with a gap in the roof of the mouth. This condition occurs in one out of 700 to 1,000 births in the United States.

"Right now, nobody tries to close cleft palate with distraction osteogenesis," says Eric Moore, M.D., Mayo Clinic otorhinolaryngologist and one of the study's investigators. "It's used in other areas of the body and other craniofacial problems, but not in cleft palate. Before taking it to the clinic to use in people, we wanted to try it in an animal model. This study tells us that it is possible to close cleft palate with distraction osteogenesis."

The Mayo Clinic researchers conducted this study in animals in order to find a method of repairing a child's cleft palate that would be even better than the current standard surgery. The distraction osteogenesis method is designed to gradually lengthen the bone of the palate through tension. An appliance made of a central body piece, four plates and screws is surgically inserted with the patient under anesthesia. After a rest period of 10 days, a key in the appliance is turned slightly each day for four weeks to slowly lengthen the bone and soft tissue. Finally, the device is surgically removed.

"This method of repairing a cleft palate is potentially superior to standard surgery because it brings in bone and soft tissue to cover the opening," says Bob Tibesar, M.D., chief resident in Mayo Clinic Department of Otorhinolaryngology and a study investigator. "This has positive implications for the shape of the palate and for speech later."

Currently, standard treatment for cleft palate repair involves surgery in which the mucosal f
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Contact: Lisa Lucier
newsbureau@mayo.edu
507-284-5005
Mayo Clinic
22-Jan-2005


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