Cleft Lip and Palate Program | Research

In addition to clinical excellence, the Cleft Lip and Palate Program at Boston Children’s Hospital strives to understand and improve cleft lip and palate care through research and innovation. With collaborations both locally and around the world, our initiatives all have a common goal — improving treatment and quality of life for children affected by cleft lip and palate.

Improving quality of care

Since 2013, our team at Boston Children’s Hospital has been one of the leading centers in a global effort to improve quality of care for children and adults affected by cleft lip and palate. We partnered with the International Consortium for Health Outcomes Measurement and other leading cleft centers to define the outcomes that all centers should measure as part of routine care. As part of this effort, in 2016 we began using CLEFT-Q and other surveys in our clinics to better understand how those under our care are doing from their own perspective. This gives the care we provide a holistic quality. We regularly monitor our own outcomes at Boston Children’s Hospital ensuring we deliver the highest level of care possible.

Advancing cleft teaching through simulation

Our surgical team collaborated with special effects artists and engineers in the Boston Children’s Hospital Simulator Program and developed a cleft lip simulator to improve how we teach cleft lip repair. This allows our surgeons in training to hone their skills at no risk to patients. Our research has shown this to be an effective learning strategy. With support of a grant through the Plastic Surgery Foundation, we continue to investigate how simulation can be used to evaluate surgical skill and shorten the learning curve for cleft lip repair to ensure our program continues to produce highly skilled cleft surgeons.

Long term facial growth outcomes after cleft lip repair

To develop the best treatment strategies, you must first understand treatment outcome. For that reason, our surgeons have a long history of using anthropometry, a tool for taking measurements of the face, to evaluate their treatment outcomes. By using anthropometry, we have developed better surgical techniques for bilateral cleft lip repair. Our surgical team continues to use anthropometry to understand how the face grows and develops after cleft operations in order to continually improve treatment.