To further advance the division of Plastic Surgery and the Craniofacial Programs’ outcomes studies, Dr. Laura Monson, plastic surgeon and 2012-2013 Texas Children’s Hospital Auxiliary Fellowship recipient, will study the short- and long-term outcomes of patients with cleft lip and palate, as well as enhance her expertise in clinical research through formal post-graduate training. The study, funded through the Fellowship, will track clinical and quality-of-life data that will enable Texas Children’s to know how patients are affected by a cleft lip and palate beyond physical measurements.

The outcomes program tracks volume of office visits, post-operative use of pain medicine, fistula and velopharyngeal insufficiency volume, post-operative lengths of stay, and a quality-of-life study. The program study has already produced a change in the type of post-operative pain medicine administered. Tylenol with Codine has been replaced by a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen to reduce drowsiness and has improved the ability of post-operative patients to drink fluids. Since September 2013, there has been a slight decrease in the overall length of stay.

67 patients between the ages of 11 and 18 are currently enrolled in the Quality-of-Life outcomes study. This portion of the study begins with two sets of NIH-validated questionnaires that measure anxiety, depression, peer relationships, coping, stigma, and self-image. Depending on the questionnaire results, patients considered “at-risk” are referred to a psychologist and a customized plan of care is created for each patient. All patients will have a follow-up visit in 1 year.