CLEFT PALATE

WHAT IS CLEFT PALATE?

Cleft palate refers to a permanent opening between the nose and the mouth due to a birth defect. It can be categorized as primary cleft (involving the lip- nose), and secondary cleft (involving the roof of the mouth). This condition is genetic and the breeds most commonly affected are brachycephalic (Boston, Pekingese, Bulldogs etc.), and it is also seen in Siamese cats.

HOW DO I KNOW THAT MY PET HAS CLEFT PALATE?

Patients with cleft palate usually have facial deformity, due to the lack of continuity between the nares and the mouth, and the gum line, teeth can be visible. Nasal discharge, coughing, gagging, difficulty eating and breathing are other signs.

HOW IS CLEFT PALATE DIAGNOSED? 

Cleft palate is diagnosed via visual inspection of the deformity and or by opening the mouth. It is strongly recommended to get chest x-rays to determine if the patient has aspirated food into the lungs and developed pneumonia.

WHAT IS THE TREATMENT OF CLEFT PALATE?

The treatment for cleft palate is surgical. The separation (cleft) is closed with reconstructive surgery. It is important to manage these patients with feeding tubes and postpone the surgery until 4 to 6 months of age to ensure adequate healing of the repair.

WHAT ARE THE COMPLICATIONS OF THE CLEFT PALATE SURGERY?

Cleft palate surgery complications are associated with failure of the repair and need for additional surgeries. Infections are also seen in the nasal passage (rhinitis) and lungs (pneumonia). Breathing problems can also be seen from swelling post-surgery. Due to the shortening of the soft palate, coughing and gagging can also be noted.

WHAT IS THE PROGOSIS WITH CLEFT PALATE REPAIR?

The prognosis with cleft palate surgery is excellent for patient that do not have pneumonia or chronic nasal discharge.