Safety of Irradiated Homologous Costal Cartilage Graft in Cleft Rhinoplasty

Hillary E. Jenny, Nicholas Siegel, Robin Yang, Richard J. Redett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Autologous cartilage grafts have a low risk of infection and extrusion in cleft rhinoplasty. However, harvesting autologous cartilage involves donor-site morbidity and increased time under anesthesia. Irradiated homologous costal cartilage grafts may be an effective alternative. Methods: A retrospective study was performed on patients with a history of cleft lip who underwent rhinoplasty for cleft nasal deformity at Johns Hopkins Hospital from 2009 to 2018. Patients were excluded if their rhinoplasty did not involve a cartilage graft. Results: One hundred sixty-five cleft rhinoplasties (patient age, 2 to 72 years; 52 percent female) were performed. Median follow-up time was 256 days; 30 percent were revision operations. Ninety-six procedures (58 percent) used irradiated homologous costal cartilage grafts, with the remaining using autologous cartilage. Complications resulted from 18 procedures (11 percent), seven (10 percent) involving autologous cartilage and 11 (12 percent) involving irradiated homologous costal cartilage. Most autologous cartilage complications (86 percent) required operative intervention, versus seven of 11 (64 percent) for irradiated homologous costal cartilage. Complications associated with irradiated homologous costal cartilage included infection (n = 5), warping (n = 2), and extrusion (n = 1), while two patients with autologous cartilage experienced collapse and one each experienced resorption, warping, and hypertrophic donor-site scarring. There was no difference between groups regarding complication rate or complications requiring operative intervention (p = 0.3 and p = 0.5, respectively). Conclusions: Irradiated homologous costal cartilage grafts are equally safe and effective as autologous cartilage for use in cleft rhinoplasty. These grafts are readily available and eliminate donor-site morbidity. CLINICAL QUESTION/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Therapeutic, III.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)76E-81E
JournalPlastic and reconstructive surgery
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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