About Pierre Robin Sequence
Pierre Robin sequence is a birth defect indicated by the presence of a smaller than normal jaw (micrognathia), a tongue that is too far back in the mouth (glossoptosis), and an opening in the roof of the mouth (cleft palate). The combination (or sequence) of these complications can lead to severe breathing and feeding problems early in an infant’s life. Surgery to move the jaw (mandibular distraction osteogenesis, also known as jaw distraction) is almost always necessary on a nearly immediate basis to assist with breathing and feeding. Fellowship-trained plastic surgeon Dr. Raj Sawh-Martinez is skilled in the treatment of Pierre Robin sequence and is experienced to perform jaw distraction to save lives and restore natural function to children born in Orlando area hospitals. Contact Craniofacial & Aesthetic Plastic Surgery in Lake Mary, FL today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Sawh-Martinez.
Jaw Distraction Causes
The possible causes of Pierre Robin sequence are numerous while also a bit misunderstood. At approximately eight weeks into a pregnancy, the lower jaw of a fetus begins to grow very quickly, allowing the tongue to move down from between the two halves of the palate. It is thought that the condition could be caused by the malformation (or slow growth) of the jaw. Pierre Robin sequence also appears to be genetic in some situations. Lastly, low amniotic fluid can have an effect on the strength of the facial muscles, connective tissues, and facial growth, potentially leading to the sequence.
What is Jaw Distraction?
Mandibular distraction osteogenesis or jaw distraction involves the surgical lengthening of a small or recessed jaw that is causing breathing difficulties in an infant. This procedure includes the insertion of jaw lengthening devices into the jaw, allowing the airway to open up so that the child can breathe without obstruction by the tongue. Jaw distraction is a life-saving procedure that is not performed for cosmetic purposes or to recreate the facial shape. It is highly effective in easing breathing problems and is preferred over tracheostomy in most situations. Jaw distraction should be performed by a skilled craniofacial specialist, such as Dr. Sawh-Martinez, for the best possible results and optimal outcomes.
Jaw Distraction Surgical Technique
Prior to beginning anything that could cause your child discomfort, an anesthesiologist will put your child to sleep. Next, Dr. Sawh-Martinez and a team of nurses will carefully begin to place IVs and monitoring equipment to ensure supreme safety while your child is in surgery. The procedure takes approximately three hours. An incision is made through the skin beneath the jawline and then the jaw bone is gently separated so a lengthening device can be attached to either side of the bone. This will be repeated on the other side of the jaw. The distraction devices are mostly invisible following the procedure except for two small rods (called distractor arms) that will stick out from the chin for approximately eight weeks.
What to Expect with Jaw Distraction
Your baby will remain in the hospital for several days until their airway has opened up as planned and they are able to breathe without assistance. Once they are breathing on their own, you will be able to take your child home where daily life should become relatively normal during the healing of the jaw. The distractor arms are made of flexible titanium and should not cause any damage to the jaw if they are bumped into or grabbed by the child. The arms should be kept clean and disinfected so as not to cause infection of the wounds. Follow-up appointments will be scheduled as necessary at Craniofacial & Aesthetic Plastic Surgery in Lake Mary, FL to monitor healing and progress. The distraction device will be removed as soon as the jaw bone is strong enough and will involve another surgery, which will require a few days stay in the hospital.
Skilled Surgical Repair
Pierre Robin sequence can be a very intimidating diagnosis. We understand the fear that revolves around surgical procedures on newborn babies. However, Dr. Sawh-Martinez is an extremely skilled surgeon who is passionate about restoring function and providing children with the opportunity to live a high-quality life. If your child was born with Pierre Robin sequence and you live in the greater Orlando, FL region, we invite you to contact Craniofacial & Aesthetic Plastic Surgery at your earliest convenience to discuss the possibility of jaw distraction surgery with Dr. Sawh-Martinez.