Ankyloglossia in Benin City

  • OD Osifo
  • EO Osaigbovo


Background: Ankyloglossia (tongue tie) occurs when the tongue is tethered to the floor of the mouth by a short, thick frenulum which limits its range of movement. The severe form interferes with speech, feeding and sucking in children without treatment. Aim: To ascertain the number of children diagnosed with tongue tie among children that presented for paediatric surgical consultation and the number with actual tongue impairment due to tongue tie. Methods: An 8-year prospective study on ankyloglossia between January, 2000 and December, 2007 at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Benin City. Results: Of the 1471 children seen during the period, 248 (16.9%) were diagnosed with tongue tie comprising of 157 males and 91 females (male/female ratio 1.7:1) with a mean age 5 months ± 2.7, while 24 (1.6%) children had tongue tethered lesion resulting in speech difficulty. Diagnostic accuracy by traditional and orthodox healthcare providers was very low, whilst mere parental curiosity and myth about tongue tie was high. Thirty-six (2.5%) had attempted excision before presentation with varying complications which included 4 children with profuse bleeding, 3 with salivary/submandibular salivary ducts injuries, 5 tongue laceration and 3 pharyngeal injury. Of the 3 children who presented with pharyngeal injury, 1 had upper respiratory tract obstruction which necessitated emergency tracheostomy. Frenectomy at the out patient clinic without anaesthesia, analgesics and antibiotics was satisfactory in 224 (90.3%) among the 248 children with demonstrable frenulum. All the children except 12 (0.8%) whose speech difficulty was due to other causes achieved normal speech at the estimated age range. Conclusion: Impaired tongue mobility due to ankyloglossia was low with unacceptably high numbers of wrong referrals. There is need for public enlightenment and campaign.

Keywords: Ankyloglossia, Tongue tie

Port Harcourt Medical Journal Vol. 3 (1) 2008: pp. 49-54

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eISSN: 0795-3038