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There is a lack of high-level evidence on the surgical management of cleft palate. An appreciation of the differences in the complication rates between different surgical techniques and timing of repair is essential in optimizing cleft palate management.
A comprehensive electronic database search will be conducted on the complication rates associated with cleft palate repair using MEDLINE, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials. Two independent reviewers with expertise in cleft pathology will screen all appropriate titles, abstracts, and full-text publications prior to deciding whether each meet the predetermined inclusion criteria. The study findings will be tabulated and summarized. The primary outcomes will be the rate of palatal fistula, the incidence and severity of velopharyngeal insufficiency, and the rate of maxillary hypoplasia with different techniques and also the timing of the repair. A meta-analysis will be conducted using a random effects model.
The evidence behind the optimal surgical approach to cleft palate repair is minimal, with no gold standard technique identified to date for a certain type of cleft palate. It is essential to appreciate how the complication rates differ between each surgical technique and each time point of repair, in order to optimize the management of these patients. A more critical evaluation of the outcomes of different cleft palate repair methods may also provide insight into more effective surgical approaches for different types of cleft palates.