Aboard the smile train: Outcomes of primary cleft palate repair at a tertiary care center: À bord du smile train : Les résultats cliniques de réparations de fentes palatines dans un centre de soins tertiaires

Document Type



Introduction: Cleft palate repair is considered to be a safe procedure, yet still carries a 5% to 30% risk of complications. This study sought to assess the outcomes of this procedure in a high-burden Asian country that partners with the Smile Train to perform cleft surgeries.
Methods: The Aga Khan University medical records database was queried for pediatric patients undergoing cleft surgery between 2014 and 2017. Data were abstracted from the patient medical records, and details of the clinical, demographic factors, and postoperative outcomes were assessed.
Results: Among 142 patients with orofacial clefts, 102 (72%) underwent primary cleft palate repair, one-third (n = 36, 35%) of whom were operated as part of the Smile Train. The median preoperative hemoglobin was 11.4 g/dL (interquartile range: 10.7-12.0 g/dL), whereas the median weight was 8.3 kg (7.7-11.4 kg). Nearly two-thirds (n = 64, 63%) of the cohort underwent preoperative cardiology screening, with only a minority undergoing orthodontic treatment (n = 6, 6%). Approximately 15% (n = 15) of patients experienced a postoperative complication, most often a fistula (n = 11, 73%). On multivariable analysis, with each unit increase in hemoglobin levels, there was a 50% reduction in the odds of experiencing a complication (odds ratio: 0.51, 95% CI: 0.28-0.87). There were no in-patient deaths among the cohort.
Conclusion: The results of the current study provide useful information to key stakeholders including patients, plastic surgeons, and policy makers on the outcomes of cleft palate repair in a developing country.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Plastic Surgery