Does frenotomy improve breast-feeding difficulties in infants with ankyloglossia?

Pediatr Int. 2014 Aug;56(4):497-505. doi: 10.1111/ped.12429.


The aim of this systematic review was to critically examine the existing literature regarding the effectiveness of tongue-tie division in infants with ankyloglossia, using the new grades of recommendations, assessment, development, and evaluation (GRADE) rating system. A clinical question was structured according to patient, intervention, comparison, and outcome, as follows: in infants with poor breast-feeding and ankyloglossia (patient), does frenotomy (intervention), compared to lactation support alone (comparison), improve feeding (outcome)? An electronic literature search was systematically conducted from databases including PubMed, Japana Centra Revuo Medicina (Igaku Chuo Zasshi), CINAHL, and Cochrane Library using the key words "ankyloglossia," "tongue-tie," "frenotomy," and/or "breast-feeding" in English and equivalent terms in Japanese. The literature search yielded four randomized clinical trials, and 12 observational studies for analysis. The quality of the literature was rated in regard to the two most important outcomes (sucking/latching, and nipple pain) and five less important outcomes (milk supply/milk production, continuation of breast-feeding, weight gain, adverse events, and dyad distress) in accordance with the GRADE system. Evidence levels of the most important outcomes were rated either A (strong evidence) or B (moderate evidence), and less important outcomes were rated C (weak evidence); every outcome consistently showed a favorable effect of frenotomy on breast-feeding. The literature review supported an overall moderate quality of evidence for the effectiveness of frenotomy for the treatment of breast-feeding difficulties in infants with ankyloglossia. No major complications from frenotomy were reported.

Keywords: GRADE; ankyloglossia; breast-feeding; frenotomy; systematic review.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Ankyloglossia
  • Breast Feeding*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lingual Frenum / surgery*
  • Mouth Abnormalities / surgery*
  • Nipples
  • Pain / etiology
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Treatment Outcome