Infants are obligate nasal breathers. Cleft palate closure may result in upper airway compromise. We describe children undergoing corrective palatal surgery who required unplanned airway support.
Tertiary referral unit.
Retrospective study (2007–2009) of 157 cleft palate procedures (70 primary procedures) in 43 patients. Exclusion criteria comprised combined cleft lip and palate, secondary palate procedure, and pre-existing airway support.
The children's mean age was 7.5 months and their mean weight 7.72 kg. Eight children were syndromic, and eight underwent pre-operative sleep studies (five positive, three negative). Post-operatively, five developed respiratory distress and four required oxygen, both events significantly associated with pre-operative obstructive sleep apnoea (p = 0.001 and 0.015, respectively). Four desaturated within 24 hours. Five required a nasopharyngeal airway. Hospital stay (mean, 4 days) was significantly associated with obstructive sleep apnoea (p = 0.002) and nasopharyngeal airway insertion (p = 0.017).
Pre-operative obstructive sleep apnoea correlated significantly with post-operative respiratory distress, supplementary oxygen requirement, nasopharyngeal airway insertion and hospital stay. We recommend pre-operative sleep investigations for all children undergoing cleft palate repair, to enable appropriate timing of the procedure.
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