Buccal Fat Pad: A Useful Adjunct Flap in Cleft Palate Repair

Adeyemo, W.L. ; Ibikunle, A.A. ; James, O. ; Taiwo, O.A. (2019-03-01)

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AIM: The aim of the study is to describe the technique and also the outcome of using buccal fat pad (BFP) as an adjunct flap in cleft palate repair and to report the surgical outcome. MATERIALS AND METHODS: All the surgical repairs with BFP were done under general anaesthesia. The use of BFP was indicated in patients who needed a secondary palatal cleft repair, those with wide palatal clefts or patients whose primary palatal cleft repair was complicated intraoperatively by inadvertent tearing of the nasal mucosa. The raw wound surfaces were dressed with Vaseline gauze instilled with Framycetin. All subjects 4 years of age and below had oral toileting with warm saline-soaked gauze after each meal. The other patients had oral toileting with warm saline mouth bath in addition to conventional toothbrushing. RESULTS: Eight patients were included in this study with an age range of 1-26 years (mean ± SD = 6.1 ± 8.6 years). Three patients presented with wide palatal clefts, another three presented with dehiscence after a primary repair which necessitated a secondary repair, while the remaining two patients had inadvertent iatrogenic tear of the nasal mucosa during the primary surgical repair. For the latter set of patients, repair was completed by the use of BFP as an adjunct at the same surgery. Post-operative evaluation was satisfactory in all cases, with healing of the flaps and complete epithelialization of the BFP in 1 month. All the patients experienced post-operative cheek swelling, signifying the post-operative oedema due to BFP harvest. However, this was usually resolved within 48 h. Healing was satisfactory with full epithelialization, and no complications were observed. CONCLUSIONS: Successful application of BFP as an adjunct flap in palatal cleft closure is demonstrated in these series. It is recommended that cleft surgeons add this technique to their armamentarium in difficult cases, especially in wide palatal cleft repair, secondary palatal cleft repair and in cases of inadvertent tearing of nasal mucosa during primary cleft palate repair.