Conall's Cleft Lip and Palate

Conall, our youngest son, was born October 31, 2002 with a wide unilateral cleft lip and palate. Conall weighed 10lbs, 10oz! Not such a little guy! Over his lifetime, he will have several procedures and surgeries to bring the separated parts of his mouth together. We're using the blog as a place to share our experience with others who are seeking information and, perhaps, some reassurance.

January 06, 2007

Conall's First 4 Months

This provides a synopsis of Conall's first 4 months.

Conall's cleft was treated with a Nasal Alveolar Molding device (NAM) for the months before surgery. Each week for 4 months, we traveled 4 hours by car from Ottawa to The Hospital For Sick Children (Sick Kids) in Toronto for Conall's care.

November 13, 2002 - Sick Kids Toronto. Conall's orthodontist, Dr. Bruno Vendittelli, took an impression of Conall's mouth in order to fit him with a plate which would begin the process of bringing the parts of his lip/palate together. This relatively new technique was started at NYU Medical Center; Dr. Vendittelli studied with the team there. We headed back to Toronto November 20th to have the plate inserted. We would return to Toronto every 2 weeks to have the plate re-fitted.

November 14, 2002 - Sick Kids Toronto. Dr. David Fisher, Conall's plastic surgeon, met us for the first time. He expected Conall to wear his mouth plate for approximately 4 months before he would be ready for his first surgery (lip repair).

November 20, 2002 - Sick Kids Toronto. Conall's orthodontist fit his new plate into his mouth. Conall slept through the entire fitting and only woke when he got hungry near the end. The plate is held in place by elastics and tape on his cheeks. These tapes also provided the resistance to create movement in his mouth. Dr. Vendittelli expected to create a 4mm space where there was currently 10mm.

Conall back at home after getting his new mouth plate. He doesn't like the feeling and has been fussing quite a bit - his doctor expects this to only last a few days to a week at which point Conall should be quite used to it.

November 27, 2002 - Sick Kids Toronto. The plate is working well! Dr. Vendittelli was amazed at the results of only one week. Conall was still obviously uncomfortable.

December 18 , 2002 - Sick Kids Toronto. Dr. Vendittelli added a nasal extension to Conall's mouth plate. The intent was to shape Conall's nose at the same time as the palate. Once again, Conall took everything in stride. He was uncomfortable for a few hours and then seemed not to notice. Conall's surgery date (for the lip closure) was discussed for late February.

Conall with his new nose ring.

Here are close-ups of the device.

When Conall was born, his cleft measured approximately 10mm

After 5 weeks of wearing his mouth plate & tapes, his gums were almost touching

Conall kept knocking his plate out of his mouth so he wore restraints some of the day. We couldn't afford to lose the progress he'd made. These are the same restraints he used for the weeks after his surgery. Poor guy!

January 3, 2003
- Toronto. Dr. Vendittelli saw Conall in his private office. Conall had "graduated" to one visit every two weeks until surgery (February 26). The plate & nose extension had done great work and now we just had to maintain the shape until the plastic surgeon did his work.

Dr. Vendittelli checking Conall's mouth plate. What a little guy laying on the dentist's chair!

Click here for the next post about Conall's journey.