Tongue dysmorphology in craniofacial microsomia

Plast Reconstr Surg. 2009 Aug;124(2):583-589. doi: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e3181addba9.


Background: Craniofacial microsomia is one of the most common and well-characterized craniofacial anomalies. Tongue dysmorphism, however, has been neither thoroughly investigated nor reported in the context of this disease. This review focuses on the true prevalence of tongue dysmorphology in craniofacial microsomia and its relation to the deformities seen in this condition.

Methods: A 20-year retrospective study was performed to determine the number of patients who had a documented tongue anomaly and any relation to the development of abnormal speech. In recognition of the limitations of this approach, a 1-year prospective study was also performed to see the true prevalence of tongue dysmorphology in these patients.

Results: Eight of 167 patients (4.8 percent) in the retrospective study were found to have tongue dysmorphologies, as opposed to 24 of 55 (43.6 percent) in the prospective study. The majority of tongue anomalies were mild. Of the eight retrospective patients, seven currently have intelligible speech with a combination of intensive speech therapy and/or surgical correction. The eighth patient is without intelligible speech. Tongue dysmorphology was positively correlated with the degree of hard- and soft-tissue deformity.

Conclusions: Tongue dysmorphologies in craniofacial microsomia, although usually mild, are frequently overlooked. The correlation of the tongue, soft tissue, and mandible anomalies may point to a common error early in gestation or an interdependence of adjacent growth centers.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Craniofacial Abnormalities* / physiopathology
  • Goldenhar Syndrome
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Mandible / abnormalities
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Speech Intelligibility
  • Tongue / abnormalities*