Review| Volume 75, ISSUE 11, P4221-4232, November 2022

In search of the optimal pain management strategy for children undergoing cleft lip and palate repair: A systematic review and meta-analysis


      Postoperative pain following pediatric cleft lip and palate repair provide unique challenges. As no guidelines presently exist, we sought to identify the most effective and safe perioperative pain management strategies for children undergoing primary cleft lip and palate repair.


      A systematic search of MEDLINE, Embase, Cochrane library, Scopus, and Web of Science databases was conducted. A total of 230 unique titles were then assessed. Pooled analysis of variables was conducted, and data pertaining to common approaches in decreasing postoperative analgesia were compared.


      A total of 39 studies involving 583 and 1445 patients undergoing cleft lip and palate repair, respectively, were included. In children undergoing cleft palate repair, palatine block demonstrated the greatest latency to first analgesia (F(8,325) = 210, p<0.0001), but it was not associated with a decrease in total opioid consumption. In cleft lip, bilateral infraorbital nerve blocks resulted in the greatest increase in latency to first analgesia (215.76 min, 95% CI, 83.26 to 448.26, p<0.005) and demonstrated a mean decrease in morphine consumption of 0.2 mg/kg/d (95% CI, -0.20 to -0.20, p<0.00001). No significant intervention-related complications were identified.


      A variety of effective methods exist to decrease postoperative pain. In this review, palatine nerve block demonstrates the greatest effectiveness in palate repair, while bilateral infraorbital nerve block demonstrates an opioid-sparing effect and increased the latency to first analgesia in cleft lip repair. All studied interventions demonstrated safety in this pediatric cohort. The results of this review should be interpreted in the context of certain limitations, including the number and nature of comparison studies, and significant reporting heterogeneity.


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