Defining ankyloglossia: a case series of anterior and posterior tongue ties

Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2010 Sep;74(9):1003-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ijporl.2010.05.025. Epub 2010 Jun 16.


Introduction: Ankyloglossia is a congenital condition in which tongue mobility is limited due to an abnormality of the lingual frenulum. The impact of ankyloglossia on breastfeeding is poorly understood but there is a recent trend toward more recognition of this condition and early intervention when needed. Currently, there lacks clear definition of ankyloglossia and different subtypes have been proposed with no clinical correlation.

Objective: To determine the prevalence of anterior versus posterior ankyloglossia in a large series of consecutive patients and to assess clinical outcomes after frenotomy.

Methods: Retrospective chart review of patients from July 2007 to July 2009 who were diagnosed with ankyloglossia and underwent office frenotomy. Baseline characteristics, specific feeding issues, type of ankyloglossia, and clinical outcomes after frenotomy were reviewed.

Results: Of the 341 total patients, 322 (94%) had anterior ankyloglossia and 19 (6%) had posterior ankyloglossia. Median age at presentation was 2.7 weeks (range 1 day of life to 24 weeks); 227 were males and 114 were females. Revision frenotomy rates were significantly higher for the posterior ankyloglossia group (3.7% anterior and 21.1% posterior, p=0.008).

Conclusion: Anterior ankyloglossia is much more common and readily managed when compared to posterior ankyloglossia. Posterior ankyloglossia is a poorly recognized condition that may contribute to breastfeeding difficulties. The diagnosis is difficult due to the subtle clinical findings but relevant health care providers should be aware of this condition. Frenotomy is a simple, safe, and effective intervention for ankyloglossia which improves breastfeeding.

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Labial Frenum / pathology
  • Labial Frenum / surgery
  • Male
  • Tongue / abnormalities*
  • Tongue / surgery