Indian Journal of Plastic Surgery
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Year : 2009  |  Volume : 42  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 4--8

Cleft lip: The historical perspective


Department of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery, Sahara India Medical Institute, Lucknow, India

Correspondence Address:
S Bhattacharya
C-907 Mahanagar, Sector B, Lucknow-226 006
India
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DOI: 10.4103/0970-0358.57180

PMID: 19884680

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The earliest documented history of cleft lip is based on a combination of religion, superstition, invention and charlatanism. While Greeks ignored their existence, Spartans and Romans would kill these children as they were considered to harbour evil spirits. When saner senses prevailed Fabricius ab Aquapendente (1537-1619) was the first to suggest the embryological basis of these clefts. The knowledge of cleft lip and the surgical correction received a big boost during the period between the Renaissance and the 19th century with the publication of Pierre Franco's Petit Traite and Traite des Hernies in which he described the condition as "lievre fendu de nativite" (cleft lip present from birth). The first documented Cleft lip surgery is from China in 390 BC in an 18 year old would be soldier, Wey Young-Chi. Albucasis of Arabia and his fellow surgeons used the cautery instead of the scalpel and Yperman in 1854 recommended scarifying the margins with a scalpel before suturing them with a triangular needle dipped in wax. The repair was reinforced by passing a long needle through the two sides of the lip and fixing the shaft of the needle with a figure-of-eight thread over the lip. Germanicus Mirault can be credited to be the originator of the triangular flap which was later modified by C.W. Tennison in 1952 and Peter Randall in 1959. In the late 50s, Ralph Millard gave us his legendary 'cut as you go' technique. The protruding premaxilla of a bilateral cleft lip too has seen many changes throughout the ages - from being discarded totally to being pushed back by wedge resection of vomer to finally being left to the orthodontists.






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