Sometimes, we are faced with conditions that require a high level of expertise to correct. One of the conditions that affects many children of Colombia is the cleft palate or cleft lip.
A cleft palate or cleft lip occurs as the result of a birth defect, where the tissue at the roof of the mouth doesn’t fuse together properly during pregnancy. Those who suffer from the condition are left with an opening in the skin underneath the nose. In addition to the facial abnormality, cleft lip and palate affects the underlying bone structure and significantly impacts dental and speech development.
In an effort to help support those born with a cleft palate, Dr. Eraso joined Smile Train and Healing the Children on a trip to Colombia to help assist with corrective treatment. These organizations have worked for more than 20 years to help the children of Colombia receive comprehensive treatment for their condition.
A cleft lip or cleft palate requires varying degrees of treatment and intervention from not only medical professionals, but also nutritionists and speech therapists to fully correct the condition. Some even need emotional support to deal with the strain of living with their condition.
Patients with a cleft lip or cleft palate suffer from problems that go far beyond the physical malformations. They may also suffer from the following difficulties:
- Dental problems: The split in the bone often leads to more cavities, misplaced teeth, and other growth issues. Often, oral surgery is needed to correct these problems.
- Nutritional deficiencies and difficulty with eating: The separation can cause food and drink to pass back through the nose.
- Persistent ear infections and hearing loss: Those suffering from cleft lip or cleft palate are prone to fluid build-up in the ears, which can lead to ear infections, and eventually, hearing loss.
- Speech problems: The gap in the bone creates speech impairments and sometimes causes a nasal tone to the voice.
Children can suffer from a cleft palate, a cleft lip, or a combination of both. An evaluation is needed to determine what intervention must take place to best correct the issue for each patient, which was a large part of Dr. Eraso’s participation. Often, the treatment plan spans from birth into the teenage years. Treatment often includes the following:
- Lip repair: 3 months
- Palate repair:8-12 months
- Speech surgery: 5 years or older
- Alveolar bone graft: 7-9 years
- Midface advancement: 14 years or older
- Nose and lip revisions: 14 years or older
In the span of five days, Dr. Eraso teamed with other doctors, dentists and surgeons to program between 200-300 surgeries. Dr. Eraso’s participation and treatment of cleft palate and cleft lip patients during his stay was memorable and inspiring. As a result, Dr. Eraso even expanded the visit to the Colombian city of Pasto, where they evaluated the possibility of future cleft palate’s mission trips.
Dr. Eraso hopes to continue his work with these charity organizations to assist with the treatment of more cleft palate and cleft lip patients. Take a look at the video below to see some highlights from his trip.