Two consecutive cleft missions were conducted in Guwahati, northeastern India in December 2010 and January 2011. In the later mission, a standardized patient education program for postoperative care was introduced. The objective of this study was to retrospectively evaluate the impact of the patient education program on cleft lip complications in terms of wound infection and dehiscence. Two hundred ninety-eight cleft lip repairs were performed in the first mission and 220 (74%) returned for early follow-up. In the second mission, 356 patients were operated on and 252 (71%) returned for follow-up. From the first mission, 8 patients (3.7%) were diagnosed with lip wound infection and 21 patients (9.6%) with lip dehiscence. After the second mission, only 1 patient (0.4%) returned with a wound infection and 16 (6.4%) were diagnosed with dehiscence.Using binary logistic regression including age, cleft type, postoperative antibiotics, surgeon, and patient education program as covariates, the patient education program stood out as the only variable with a statistically significant impact on the incidence of postoperative wound infections. Even though the incidence of lip dehiscence was reduced by one third when the patient education program was utilized, our regression model singled out the surgeons as the only factor significantly related to this type of complication. Moreover, no benefits of postoperative antibiotic prophylaxis were found. Further analysis of the data also implied that the use of tissue adhesive as a compliment to sutures does not reduce the risk of dehiscence.
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