The Cleft Team in Utrecht has a long history going back to the nineteen-fifties of last century. Initially there were two teams, one headed by the maxillofacial surgery department and one by the plastic surgery department. These two teams were merged in the late nineteen-seventies, while the children’s hospital was still an independent entity, located in the city center. In the late nineteen-eighties, the children’s hospital and academic hospital were merged and moved to the current location at “the Uithof” in Utrecht.
The Cleft Team incorporates all (sub)specialties and covers all care from prenatal counseling until adulthood and later if needed. A multidisciplinary team approach is standard. The number of new babies varies a bit from year to year, but on average we see about 50 new cases per year. The Cleft Team has close collaboration with two smaller teams in de the East and South West of the country. Our Cleft Team participates in Dutch and European Reference networks. There is also a close collaboration between the Cleft Team and the 22q11.2 team, as Utrecht is the Dutch reference center for 22q11.2 as well. The Team organizes cleft dissection courses on a regular basis, but Covid unfortunately forced an interruption for several years. We’re happy to resume this tradition again in 2022.
Plastic, Reconstructive, and Cleft Surgeon
Emma C. Paes (1984, Mainz, Germany) started to study medicine at the University of Utrecht in 2002. Her interest in plastic surgery developed primarily by her proceedings in the anatomy department during her study. This is also where she conducted her first scientific work, by performing cadaver dissections to investigate the anatomic features of the internal mammary artery perforator flap. Awaiting the start of her training in plastic surgery in 2012, Emma chose to work as a junior teacher in head and neck anatomy, under the auspices of professor Ronald Bleys. In 2015 she defended her Ph.D. thesis entitled “progress toward understanding infants with Robin sequence”. Since 2017 she works as a pediatric reconstructive plastic surgeon at the University Medical Centre and Princess Máxima Center, Utrecht. She is involved in post-oncologic (pediatric) reconstructions, microtia and facial nerve reconstructions, and the treatment of pediatric vascular anomalies. Since 2021 she also participates in the Cleft Team of the Wilhelmina Children’s Hospital. She currently supervises various research projects in cleft care. Special interest goes out for infants with the Robin sequence.