Home  -  About us  -  Editorial board  -  Search  -  Ahead of print  -  Current issue  -  Archives  -  Instructions  -  Subscribe  -  Contacts  -  Advertise - Login 

 Table of Contents  
Year : 2013  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 84-86

Cleft palate in Williams syndrome

1 Department of Maxillofacial Surgery, Santo. Spirito Hospital ASL RM E, Italy
2 Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Sciences, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy

Date of Web Publication4-Apr-2013

Correspondence Address:
Amodeo Giulia
Department of Maxillofacial Sciences, Sapienza University of Rome, Via del Giordano 3300144, Rome
Login to access the Email id

DOI: 10.4103/2231-0746.110071

PMID: 23662266

Rights and Permissions

Williams-Beuren syndrome (WBS) is a genomic neurodevelopmental disorder, estimated to occur in approximately 1 in 10,000 persons. It is caused by a deletion of the "elastin" gene on chromosome 7q11.23 and was described officially in 1961 by Williams, Barrat-Boyes, and Lowe. Cleft palate is not considered in the medical literature as a part of the multisystem disorders of the Williams syndrome but it was yet described. We present our experience of a patient who presents cleft palate among other congenital malformations.

Keywords: Cleft palate, congenital malformations, Williams-Beuren syndrome

How to cite this article:
Domenico S, Orlando C, Graziana FM, Papi P, Giulia A. Cleft palate in Williams syndrome. Ann Maxillofac Surg 2013;3:84-6

How to cite this URL:
Domenico S, Orlando C, Graziana FM, Papi P, Giulia A. Cleft palate in Williams syndrome. Ann Maxillofac Surg [serial online] 2013 [cited 2021 Jul 30];3:84-6. Available from: https://www.amsjournal.com/text.asp?2013/3/1/84/110071

  Introduction Top

Williams-Beuren syndrome (WBS) was first recognized as a distinct entity in 1961. It is present at birth, and affects males and females equally. It can occur in all ethnic groups and has been identified in countries throughout the world, with an estimated prevalence of 1 in 10,000 births. Williams syndrome is a genomic disorder, caused by the micro-deletion of about 26 genes from the long arm of chromosome 7, in the region that is now known as the "WBS chromosome region". The diagnosis is generally established at birth with the fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) test. WBS is characterized by multisystem disorders: Cardiovascular anomalies, such as supravalvular aortic stenosis (SVAS) and hypertension, a distinctive "elfin" facial appearance with mental disability and a very characteristic highly social behavior. [1] Cleft palate has never been considered part of the WBS but the condition has not been yet described in medical literature.

  Case Report Top

The patient was presented to us, for the first time, at the age of 1 year. He is the only son of a family with no previous history of congenital malformations. At birth he presented characteristic clinical features like the bitemporal narrowing, the epicanthal fold, and the flat nasal dorsum [Figure 1]. Moreover, this patient presented a SVAS and renal abnormalities and rare a U-shape cleft palate. Hence diagnose of Williams syndrome, based on the clinical features and supported by the FISH test was established. At the age of 9 months he underwent surgery for the correction of an inguinal hernia. At the age of 13 months we approached a palatoplasty through the Kriens technique and he was discharged on the first postoperative day in a good loco-regional condition. [2] The patient was treated during the humanitarian mission "Sorrisi in Italia", organized by the charity foundation Operation Smile.
Figure 1: Preoperative frontal view

Click here to view

  Discussion Top

Initial appreciation of the syndrome came from two seemingly unrelated disorders: Idiopatic hypercalcemia of infants, largely the domain of pediatricians, and SVAS, treated by cardiologists. Then Anna Blancquaert, Belgian pediatric cardiologist, was the first to point out the similarity of the facies in patients with idiopathic hypercalcemia of infancy and those with SVAS and mental retardation. [3] In 1961, J.C.P. Williams described for the first time a new unrecognized syndrome, the association of SVAS and mental retardation with distinctive facial appearance and "friendly" personality in four nonconsanguineous children. [4] A year after this report, German physician Dr. A. J. Beuren described three new patients with the same presentation.

Later WBS was accurately described and nowadays it is commonly known that it is caused by a microdeletion at 7q11.23., now referred as WBS chromosome region, spanning 1.5-1.8 million base pairs and containing 26-28 genes. [5]

FISH involving Elastin gene (ELN)-specific probes, establishes the diagnosis for this syndrome by showing the presence of a single ELN allele only rather than two alleles. WBS is estimated to occur in approximately 1 in 10,000 persons. WBS has a characteristic constellation of clinical features that include: unusual facies, abnormal behavioral abilities, cardiovascular anomalies, renal, and other abnormalities. Cleft palate has never been referred to be part of this multidisorders syndrome; we do not know the frequency of Williams' syndrome association with cleft lip or palate because of the lack of the medical literature. [6] We approached the cleft palate repair through the Kriens palatoplasty [2] [Figure 2]. This technique consists of a three layer palatoplasty with intravelar veloplasty: Palatal muscle reconstruction offers better velopharyngeal competence and eustachian tube function. The levator muscle repositioning procedure or intravelar veloplasty during palatoplasty is the most widely practiced method to achieve velopharyngeal competence. Victor Veau first described the 'cleft muscles' and advocated the concept of midline levator palatini muscle reapproximation. He emphasized the importance of an encircling suture to pull the levator muscle bundles together, side to side. Braithwaite and Kriens further improved this technique. They emphasized careful dissection of abnormally positioned levator muscles and the need to free the levator palatini from the posterior edge of the hard palate to restore the levator sling and allow tension free closure in the midline. The operation is technically challenging, and there is great variability in the degree of muscle dissection and overlap across the midline. [7] Hence, results vary among surgeons. The patient was discharged on the first postoperative day and he did not show any major/minor complications [Figure 3].
Figure 2: Intraoral preoperative view

Click here to view
Figure 3: Intraoral postoperative view

Click here to view

The patient's facial features are typical. He presents bitemporal narrowing, epicanthal fold, prominent ears, enlarged philtrum, flat nasal dorsum, malar hypoplasia, and puffiness around the eyes. Moreover, these patients have characteristic attitude of the mouth, which is maintained in the open position, stellate/lacy iris pattern, strabismus, and full cheeks. [8] It results in characteristic "elfin-like" face. Cardiovascular anomalies are usually represented by SVAS with arterial narrowing: The aortic root is dilated and the proximal ascending aorta is mildly hypoplastic. This patient presents a SVAS. SVAS is rare outside the setting of WBS, except in familial SVAS syndrome. It occurs in approximately 70% of the patients affected by this syndrome. The arterial narrowing is due to thickening of the vascular media from smooth muscle overgrowth and can lead to stenosis of medium and large arteries. This arterial condition is also known to occur in numerous locations, including aortic arch, the descending aorta and the pulmonary, coronary, renal, mesenteric and intracranial arteries. An increased carotid artery intima-media thickness consistent with generalized elastin arteriopathy is present in all cases. Hypertension usually develops in about 50% of patients. Cardiovascular complications are the major cause of death in these patients: There is a cardiovascular-associated mortality 25-100 times than among the controls. [9] Other important clinical features are represented by the behavioral aspect; this patient showed a very friendly behavior. This is characteristic of Williams' syndrome patients; they are described as highly sociable, approachable, overly friendly, never going unnoticed in a group, and empathic. This combination of characteristics, which has not been attributed to any other syndrome or to children who are developing normally, is usually defined as "cocktail-party syndrome".

As seen in the literature, the patient presents low muscle tone and joint laxity. As the children get older, joint stiffness (contractures) may develop.

Despite the frequent association with hypercalcemia, our patient reveals normal calcium serum level.

Williams syndrome is associated with an abnormal pattern of growth. In the first 4 years of life, weight gain and linear growth are poor. Our patient shows, in fact, a height that is below the third percentile. Even though there is improvement in growth in mid-childhood, 70% remain below the third percentile for mid parental height and are thus shorter than would be expected for their genetic background. This combination of factors leads to a mean final adult height that is below the third percentile. [10]

  Conclusion Top

The primary care physician remains the principal provider and care coordinator for patients with WBS. Treatment involves a combination of medical monitoring, anticipatory guidance, direct therapies, pharmacotherapy, surgery, and adaptive changes. None of the available treatments are curative. Cleft palate has been reported in literature just in a few cases as part of the multidisorders features that characterized this syndrome. [11] Thus our patient represents an important rarity.

  References Top

1.Bennett FC, La Veck B, Sells CJ. The Williams elfin facies syndrome: The physiological profile as an aid in syndrome. J Pediatrics 1978;61:303-6.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Aik-Ming L, Lun-Jou L. Palatoplasty: Evolution and controversies. Chang Gung Med J 2008;31:13-7.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Berdon WE, Clarkson PM, Teele RL. Williams-Beuren syndrome: Historical aspects. Pediatr Radiol 2011;41:262-6.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Williams JC, Barratt-Boyes BG, Lowe JB. Supravalvular aortic stenosis. Circulation 1961;24:1311-8.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Schubert C. The genomic basis of the Williams - Beuren syndrome. Cell Mol Life Sci 2009;66:1178-97.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Blanco-Dàvila F, Olveda-Rodriguez JA. Cleft palate in a patient with Williams' syndrome. J Craniofac Surg 2001;12:145-7.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Losee JE, Kirschner RE. Comprehensive Cleft Care. 2008;Part III:185-453.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Tarjan I, Balaton G, Balaton P, Varbio S, Vajo Z. Facial and dental appearance of Williams syndrome. Postgrad Med J 2003;79:241.  Back to cited text no. 8
9.Beuren AJ, Shulze C, Eberle P, Harmanjanz D, Apitz J. The syndrome supravalvular aortic stenosis, peripheral pulmonary stenosis, mental retardation and similar facial appearance. Am J Cardiol 1964;13:471-82.  Back to cited text no. 9
10.Pober BR. Williams-Beuren Syndrome. N Engl J Med 2010;362:239-52.  Back to cited text no. 10
11.Preus M. The Williams syndrome: Objective definition and diagnosis. Clin Genet 1984;25:422-8.  Back to cited text no. 11


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3]

This article has been cited by
1 TFII-I and AP2a Co-Occupy the Promoters of Key Regulatory Genes Associated with Craniofacial Development
Paige Miranda,Badam Enkhmandakh,Dashzeveg Bayarsaihan
The Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Journal. 2018; : 15-214
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
2 Orthodontic Treatment and Maxillary Anterior Segmental Distraction Osteogenesis of a Subject with Williams–Beuren Syndrome and Isolated Cleft Palate: A Long-Term Follow-Up from the Age of 5 to 24 Years
Tetsutaro Yamaguchi,Tatsuo Shirota,Mohamed Adel,Masahiro Takahashi,Shugo Haga,Ryo Nagahama,Misato Nakashima,Mayu Furuhata,Takaaki Kamatani,Koutaro Maki
Case Reports in Dentistry. 2017; 2017: 1
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
3 High-resolution single nucleotide polymorphism arrays identified an atypical microdeletion of the Williams-Beuren syndrome interval in a patient presenting with a different phenotype
Shijun Hu,Yifeng Yang,Lin Liu,Zhiping Tan,Tianli Zhao
Molecular Medicine Reports. 2017; 15(5): 2709
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
4 A Patient With Pansynostosis and Williams-Beuren Syndrome
Katinka Kansy,Christian Freudlsperger,Jürgen Hoffmann,Michael Engel
Journal of Craniofacial Surgery. 2016; 27(1): e4
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
5 Alternative treatment for open bite Class III malocclusion in a child with Williams-Beuren syndrome
Giovanni Modesto Vieira,Eduardo Jacomino Franco,Denise Falcão Pinheiro da Rocha,Laudimar Alves de Oliveira,Rivadávio Fernandes Batista Amorim
Dental Press Journal of Orthodontics. 2015; 20(1): 97
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
Access Statistics
Email Alert *
Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

  In this article
  Case Report
   Article Figures

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded410    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 5    

Recommend this journal