Prioritizing cleft/craniofacial surgical care after the COVID-19 pandemic

Corstiaan Breugem, Hans Smit, Hans Mark, Gareth Davies, Peter Schachner, Mechelle Collard, Debbie Sell, Luca Autelitano, Angela Rezzonico, Fabio Mazzoleni, Giorgio Novelli, Peter Mossey, Martin Persson, Felicity Mehendale, Alexander Gaggl, Christine Van Gogh, Petra Zuurbier, Siegmar Reinart, Feike De Graaff, Costanza Meazzini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: It is anticipated that in due course the burden of emergency care due to COVID-19 infected patients will reduce sufficiently to permit elective surgical procedures to recommence. Prioritizing cleft/craniofacial surgery in the already overloaded medical system will then become an issue. The European Cleft Palate Craniofacial Association, together with the European Cleft and Craniofacial Initiative for Equality in Care, performed a brief survey to capture a current snapshot during a rapidly evolving pandemic.

Methods: A questionnaire was sent to the 2242 participants who attended 1 of 3 recent international cleft/craniofacial meetings.

Results: The respondents indicated that children with Robin sequence who were not responding to nonsurgical options should be treated as emergency cases. Over 70% of the respondents indicated that palate repair should be performed before the age of 15 months, an additional 22% stating the same be performed by 18 months. Placement of middle ear tubes, primary cleft lip surgery, alveolar bone grafting, and velopharyngeal insufficiency surgery also need prioritization. Children with craniofacial conditions such as craniosynostosis and increased intracranial pressure need immediate care, whilst children with craniosynostosis and associated obstructive sleep apnea syndrome or proptosis need surgical care within 3 months of the typical timing. Craniosynostosis without signs of increased intracranial pressure needs correction before the age of 18 months.

Conclusions: This survey indicates several areas of cleft and craniofacial conditions that need prioritization, but also certain areas where intervention is less urgent. We acknowledge that there will be differences in the post COVID-19 response according to circumstances and policies in individual countries.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere3080
Number of pages5
JournalPlastic and Reconstructive Surgery - Global Open
Volume8
Issue number9
Early online date14 Sep 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020

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