Short-stay cleft palate surgery with intraoperative dexamethasone and Marcaine

Michael C. Bateman, J. Alejandro Conejero, Eric K. Mooney, Douglas M. Rothkopf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The perioperative management of cleft palate surgery remains controversial. Early literature supported hospital stays of 2-5 days, but more recent reports have supported 24-hour admissions in carefully screened patients without congenital syndromes. We retrospectively reviewed 65 cleft palate repairs performed by the senior author from August 1992 through November 2003. Procedures included repairs of the soft palate (n = 25), hard palate (n = 4), or combined hard and soft palate (n = 36). All repairs were performed using a Furlow double, opposing Z-plasty technique. Nine patients (14%) had associated congenital syndromes. Prior to January 1995, patients (n = 15) received perioperative antibiotics and local injection of lidocaine with epinephrine prior to incision. The average operative time to first oral feeding was 13 hours, and the average length of stay in this group was 2.4 days. Previous oral surgery literature has demonstrated the reduction of pain, edema, and trismus with the use of dexamethasone. As part of our recent operative protocol, all patients (n = 50) after January 1995 received perioperative antibiotics, local injection of a 50/50 mixture of 1% lidocaine with epinephrine, and 0.5% Marcaine with epinephrine prior to incision and 4 mg of intravenous dexamethasone perioperatively. The average time to first feeding was 7 hours and the average length of stay was 1.1 days. Postoperatively, patients from both groups were maintained on a liquid or soft diet, depending on their age without the use of bottles. There were no differences in the use of antibiotics or pain management between the 2 groups. Patients were assessed by the surgical team for evaluation of the surgical site and oral intake prior to discharge. Patients in the steroid/Marcaine group had earlier oral intake (P < 0.05) and shorter length of stay (P < 0.05). Of those patients receiving dexamethasone and Marcaine, 43/50 (86%) were discharged within 24 hours. Patients requiring longer hospitalization had initially inadequate oral intake. One patient required readmission for dehydration secondary to rotavirus. In conclusion, short-stay cleft palate surgery is safe, given adequate oral intake, competent parents, and a safe home environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-247
Number of pages3
JournalAnnals of Plastic Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2006


  • Bupivacaine
  • Cleft palate repair
  • Dexamethasone
  • Short-stay surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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