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Bright Futures

Articles and Updates from Phoenix Children's

July 01, 2021, Kurnik, Nicole M., MD ,
Team-Based Care for Cleft & Craniofacial Conditions
Team-Based Care for Cleft & Craniofacial Conditions

Cleft and craniofacial conditions affect patient of all ages, including infants, children, teens and adults. Cleft lip and cleft palate are two of the most common birth defects, affecting thousands of patients in the United States each year. Although these are the more common conditions, there is a wide range of craniofacial conditions and syndromes that Impact patients’ ability to speak, see, eat, and breath.

Some of these patients can be diagnosed in utero and some of these conditions are discovered after birth or acquired through development. These conditions may affect the patient’s head, jaw bones, nasal passages, how they eat and breathe and how their face grows over time. These include syndromes such as Crouzon, Pfeiffer, Seathre-Chotzen, Apert and many others. Some of these conditions can be life threatening and some can significantly affect the way the patients grow and develop. These patients require care from infancy into adulthood.

Team approach

One of the most important aspects of any cleft or craniofacial diagnosis is a team approach to treatment. At Phoenix Children’s, these patients are treated by a team of specialists who follow them throughout their life. This team includes plastic surgeons who operate on the head, jaw bones, ears, facial bones and cleft lip and palate. Other specialties include craniofacial orthodontics who help treat patients with lip and nasal molding as well as jaw and tooth development and specialized speech and language pathologists who help with feeding and speech and language development as the child gets older. These patients are also frequently seen by neurosurgeons, genetic specialists, psychologists, otolaryngologists (nose and throat doctors), dentists and eye surgeons. These providers are all passionate about taking care of patients with cleft and craniofacial conditions and specialize in treating them from infancy to adulthood.

Team-Based Care for Cleft & Craniofacial Conditions

Coordinated care

It can be very overwhelming for families to travel to multiple appointments and coordinate care with different providers. Phoenix Children’s Craniofacial Surgery Program can see these patients in one coordinated visit throughout multiple time points in their life to provide comprehensive well-rounded care. That’s part of the reason why our team-based approach, in conjunction with the Barrow Cleft and Craniofacial Center, is crucial to achieve the best treatment for these children throughout their life. Our team of doctors and health care providers all works together to coordinate a custom treatment plan for each individual patient.

Caring for kids is our specialty – whatever the cause or condition. Our surgeons and care teams routinely manage the most challenging conditions. We’re here to help from diagnosis through recovery. We pride ourselves on building lifelong, caring relationships as these children grow.

Learn more about our cleft and craniofacial capabilities. Call us at 602-933-0500.

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