There is usually some relapse in position of the alar cartilage after primary repair of unilateral cleft lip. Therefore, preoperative or postoperative external splinting has been recommended to supplement either closed or open suspension of the alar cartilage. The authors present a method using a resorbable internal nostril splint to shield the positioned alar cartilage from deformational forces caused by scar, and thus avoiding the problems associated with external splinting. An internal nasal splint was placed in 15 infants during repair of unilateral complete cleft lip and nasal deformity. The nasal morphology was compared with that of 15 control patients who had the same nasolabial procedure without internal splinting. Average follow-up time was 20.4 months (range, 4 to 30 months). Photogrammetric analysis showed that asymmetry of the alar contours averaged 8.6 percent in the splinted patients, as compared with 23 percent for controls (p < 0.01). Thus, alar asymmetry was decreased two-thirds in the splinted group. An internal resorbable nasal splint is an adjunct to open alar suspension in primary repair of the unilateral cleft lip nasal deformity. An internal nasal splint protects the corrected alar cartilage longer than an external splint and eliminates drawbacks, such as necrosis, cutaneous depression of the nostril sill, and patient non-compliance. This strategy of temporary internal support of healing cartilage has other applications.
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