Early Placement of Ventilation Tubes in Infants with Cleft Lip and Palate: A Systematic Review

Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2018 Mar;158(3):459-464. doi: 10.1177/0194599817742840. Epub 2017 Nov 21.


Objective Studies have shown that the majority of cleft lip and palate (CLP) children have middle ear fluid present at the time of lip repair (3-4 months). Despite hearing loss, the majority of children do not undergo ventilation tube treatment if required until the time of palate repair (9-12 months). We aimed to examine the effectiveness and potential complications of early ventilation tube placement prior to palatoplasty in infants with cleft lip and palate. Data Sources Medline (1946-2015), Embase (1980-2015), and EBM Reviews (Cochrane Central Register of Controlled). Review Methods Data sources were searched for publications that described the results of early ventilation tube placement in children with CLP prior to cleft palate repair. Two independent reviewers appraised the selected studies. Results Of 226 studies identified, 6 studies met the inclusion criteria. Early ventilation tube insertion in CLP gave similar speech and audiology outcomes to non-CLP children undergoing ventilation tube insertion and better outcomes than those children with CLP having later ventilation tube insertion at or after the time of palate closure. The main reported side effect was otorrhea, being higher for children with CLP having early ventilation tube insertion (67% vs 33%), with a reduction in otorrhea with increasing age. Larger studies with longer-term outcome reporting are required to fully address the study objectives. Conclusion Published data are limited but appear to support early insertion of ventilation tubes in children with CLP to restore middle ear function and maximize audiologic and speech outcomes.

Keywords: OME; cleft lip and palate; ventilation tubes.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cleft Lip / complications*
  • Cleft Lip / surgery
  • Cleft Palate / complications*
  • Cleft Palate / surgery
  • Hearing Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Middle Ear Ventilation / methods*
  • Otitis Media with Effusion / etiology*
  • Otitis Media with Effusion / surgery*
  • Voice Disorders / prevention & control*