University of Hull, United Kingdom
Cleft lip and palate is the most common facial birth defect, affecting one in 700 babies with both functional problems – such as feeding, breathing, speech and hearing – and aesthetic problems that can lead to psychosocial and psychological problems. Poor maxillary growth affects nearly all patients with the condition and can result in substantial maxillary retrusion requiring orthognathic surgery and associated orthodontic treatment in early adulthood. Surprisingly, there is a lack of evidence supporting this strategy of late intervention. The absence of data characterising the precise anatomical location, vectors, velocity and magnitude of maxillary growth should be addressed as a priority to determine the optimum timing for surgical intervention.
We will develop, test and validate three-dimensional methodologies to quantify maxillofacial hard tissue growth and related soft-tissue changes. This pilot work will provide three-dimensional geometric morphometric algorithms and computational methods with corresponding benchmark software tools for a larger clinical study which will determine the full nature and extent of hard-tissue maxillary growth and related soft-tissue changes during late adolescence.
Our findings will identify if and when earlier maxillary advancement surgery could be carried out to expedite correction of dentofacial deformity and minimise the associated significant psychosocial problems.