Cleft Lip, Cleft Palate

As described in a recent post, dental conditions are often hidden and painful. The following posts are going to help describe conditions that pets can get as well as treatment. Many people I talk with are surprised how we can help pets with dental conditions and save teeth whenever possible.

Clefts of the lip and/or palate have been reported to occur in ~1 for every 1000 live beagle births. Due to the fact many puppies with clefts are euthanized early in life the true incidence across breeds is unknown.

Surgeries to repair clefts are varied, but can be successful. Due to an average of 1.75 additional cm of bone is missing on average under the visible soft tissue cleft defect, 1) repairs may require multiple surgeries and 2) 3D imaging is invaluable.

Studies have shown animals with clefts have at least one additional anomaly such as ear issues or nasal issues. 3D imaging is necessary to find the additional issue as a study without CT found only 13.5% (vs 100%) had additional abnormalities. Just because a facility has CT imaging, it does not mean the detail is adequate for accurate diagnosis and treatment. Please ensure micro CT imaging is available. The imaging available in our facility is 3D cone beam computed tomography containing soft tissue as well as bone algorithms with true data instead of interpreted data. The detail is as thin as 0.09 mm and uses less radiation. Most traditional CT units use about twice as much radiation and have typical slice thicknesses of 4-6 mm = 20+ times less detailed.

Surgery can interfere with growth if performed anytime prior to 16 weeks of age. Many cases may need to find alternate feeding methods such as orogastric tubes until they reach sufficient age.

Contact us to learn more about cleft repair for your pet.