A rather less common congenital disease in which there is failure of midline closure of the palate. It could be either the hard bony part or the soft part or both together. Baby will have difficulty nursing as there is no negative pressure to generate a sucking motion. It affects speech if not corrected early and might lead to recurrent ear infection.

It requires a multi-team effort, requiring a plastic surgeon, ENT consultation and a speech therapist and pediatrician.

Surgery remains the only available option and it is done at the age of one year up to 18 months of age, before the child develops a speech pattern.

The pediatrician is involved first to look for other congenital defects and to follow up the child’s growth. 

Key facts about Palatoplasty:

  • Hospital or an in –office procedure: a hospital procedure.
  • Anesthesia: General.
  • Incisions: in the roof of the mouth.
  • Length of procedure: 2 hours.
  • Discomfort: moderate. The child will be pain free in 2-3 days.
  • What to expect: In hospital stay of one day is needed in hospital and the patient will be discharged the second day. 
  • Long term result: the procedure is permanent.
  • Strict oral fluid diet and instructions will be followed up for two weeks. A soft diet will be prescribed for the next 4 weeks with instructions to follow as needed and oral hygiene care.
  • The wounds usually heal in two weeks and complete healing is achieved in 4-6 weeks. The stitches are usually absorbed with no need to remove them.  The child will gain a fully functional palate with normal speech development and swallowing.