Some children are born with an abnormally small mandible (jawbone), a condition called micrognathia. Infants with a small jaw can have trouble eating and breathing due to the jaw pushing the baby’s tongue into the back of the throat. For these children, mandibular distraction is an option that provides relief by opening the airway and improving the child’s ability to eat.
The Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Center for Craniofacial Disorders offers mandibular distraction, a method used to increase the length of the mandible. It requires a surgical procedure to attach the device to the mandible. Following surgery, the nurses and parents manually adjust the device to slowly lengthen the child’s mandible, a process which gradually increases over seven to 10 days.
The Children’s Center for Craniofacial Disorders has pioneered the use of resorbable distractors, which allow for a one-stage distraction process that does not require a second surgery for removal.