Cleft Palate Team
The Children's Hospital Cleft and Craniofacial Clinic is the only approved cleft palate team in Tennessee. Cleft palate management is complicated, so the team must include:
- Social workers
- Speech language pathologists
- Oral surgeons
The team currently treats more than 200 patients in our region. The cleft palate birth defect causes abnormal facial appearance, unclear speech, poor hearing, learning issues and poor dental health. Our cleft palate team understands that better hearing, improved speech and positive self-image are essential tools for children to develop and grow into adults. Read more about cleft lip and cleft palate.
ENT doctors often work closely with audiologists. These speech and hearing specialists do tests with your child to measure his hearing, brain's response to sound and how well all parts of his ear are working. The audiologists can fit your child for a hearing aid, ear plugs and even cochlear implants. They also may test your child for central auditory processing disorder, which happens when your child does not process the information they hear because his brain is not fully coordinated with his ears.
After your child is diagnosed with a communication disorder or hearing loss, our audiologists will work with his primary care doctor, teachers and family to create a special plan for him. He will also be referred to communications specialists and speech language pathologists to receive the most comprehensive care possible.
One of the most common surgeries in the country is the tonsillectomy, which is the removal of the tonsils. Your ENT doctor will recommend the removal of your child's tonsils if they are affecting your child's breathing, sleeping or swallowing or causing frequent infections.
A tonsillectomy takes between 30 to 45 minutes for most patients. The ENT doctor will remove your child's tonsils through the mouth. Your child will have a sore throat after the surgery and require medicine to ease the pain. Your child will have to be excused from school for one week to recover.
Ear Infections and Ear Tubes
Babies and young children tend to get more ear infections than older children and adults. Because their body parts are smaller and always developing, it is harder for fluid to drain from the middle ear, which causes infection. Many children grow out of ear infections before surgery is required.
Symptoms of ear infections include:
- Hearing loss
If your child is having repeated ear infections in a year, he may need ear tubes put into his eardrum by our ENT doctor. The tubes allow fluid to drain into the ear canal without getting caught in the eardrum. Tubes last between six months and two years. The body will push out the tubes on its own when the ear canal has fully developed.
The ear tube surgery takes about 15 to 20 minutes and is done under anesthesia. Your child may be able to hear better almost immediately after the surgery.