Radiology of cleft lip and palate: Imaging for the prenatal period and throughout life

Zachary R. Abramson, Zachary S. Peacock, Harris L. Cohen, Asim F. Choudhri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Recent advances in prenatal imaging have made possible the in utero diagnosis of cleft lip and palate and associated deformities. Postnatal diagnosis of cleft lip is made clinically, but imaging still plays a role in detection of associated abnormalities, surgical treatment planning, and screening for or surveillance of secondary deformities. This article describes the clinical entities of cleft lip with or without cleft palate (CLP) and isolated cleft palate and documents their prenatal and postnatal appearances at radiography, ultrasonography (US), magnetic resonance (MR) imaging, and computed tomography (CT). Imaging protocols and findings for prenatal screening, detection of associated anomalies, and evaluation of secondary deformities throughout life are described and illustrated. CLP and isolated cleft palate are distinct entities with shared radiologic appearances. Prenatal US and MR imaging can depict clefting of the lip or palate and associated anomalies. While two- and three-dimensional US often can depict cleft lip, visualization of cleft palate is more difficult, and repeat US or fetal MR imaging should be performed if cleft palate is suspected. Postnatal imaging can assist in identifying associated abnormalities and dentofacial deformities. Dentofacial sequelae of cleft lip and palate include missing and supernumerary teeth, oronasal fistulas, velopharyngeal insufficiency, hearing loss, maxillary growth restriction, and airway abnormalities. Secondary deformities can often be found incidentally at imaging performed for other purposes, but detection is necessary because they may have considerable implications for the patient.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2053-2063
Number of pages11
JournalRadiographics : a review publication of the Radiological Society of North America, Inc
Issue number7
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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