Incidence of Palatal Fistula at Time of Secondary Alveolar Cleft Reconstruction

Vikram A. Shankar, Alison Snyder-Warwick, Gary B. Skolnick, Albert S. Woo, Kamlesh B. Patel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Objective: We aim to establish consistent time points for evaluating palatal fistula incidence to standardize reporting practices and clarify prospective literature. Design: An institutional retrospective chart review was conducted on 76 patients with unilateral or bilateral complete cleft lip and palate who underwent secondary alveolar bone grafting between 2006 and 2015. Main Outcome Measures: Early fistula incidence rates were reported prior to maxillary expansion, and late fistula rates were reported at the time of alveolar bone grafting. Fistula recurrence rates after primary repair were also measured. Results: We found an early fistula incidence rate of 20% (n 15) and a late fistula rate of 55% (n 42) at the time of secondary ABG. Fistulae recurred after initial repair in 43% of cases. Fistulae were classified using the Pittsburgh Classification System as type III (33%), type IV (60%), or type V (7%). The presence of a bilateral cleft (P 0.01) and history of early fistula repair (P, 0.01) were associated with late fistula incidence in a univariate analysis. In a logistic regression model, only early fistula repair was associated with late fistula incidence (OR 17.17) and overall likelihood of recurrence (OR 70.89). Conclusions: Early fistulae should be reported prior to orthodontic expansion of the maxillary arch. Late fistulae should be reported at the time of ABG, following palatal expansion. Patients who develop an early fistula after palatoplasty are likely to experience recurrent fistula formation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)999-1005
Number of pages7
JournalCleft Palate-Craniofacial Journal
Issue number7
StatePublished - Aug 2018


  • Alveolar bone grafting
  • Alveolar cleft reconstruction
  • Cleft lip and palate
  • Cleft palate fistula


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