Progressive Tightening of the Levator Veli Palatini Muscle Improves Velopharyngeal Dysfunction in Early Outcomes of Primary Palatoplasty

Dennis C. Nguyen, Kamlesh B. Patel, Gary B. Skolnick, Rachel Skladman, Lynn M. Grames, Mary B. Stahl, Jeffrey L. Marsh, Albert S. Woo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Background: Management of the levator veli palatini with intravelar veloplasty has been shown to improve speech resonance. The senior author has introduced a more aggressive procedure where the levator is separately dissected, overlapped, and tightened. This study compares resonance results from four levator management protocols: non-intravelar veloplasty, Kriens intravelar veloplasty, radical intravelar veloplasty, and overlapping intravelar veloplasty. Methods: Retrospective chart review was conducted on 252 patients who underwent primary palatoplasty with speech follow-up at 3 years of age. Velopharyngeal function was evaluated with perceptual speech examinations, and subjects were scored on a four-point scale (0 = normal resonance; 1 = occasional hypernasality/nasal emission/turbulence/grimacing, no further assessment warranted; 2 = mild hypernasality/intermittent nasal turbulence/grimacing, velopharyngeal imaging suggested; and 3 = severe hypernasality, surgical intervention recommended). Fisher's exact test was used to compare outcomes. Results: A single surgeon performed all the non-intravelar veloplasty (n = 92), Kriens intravelar veloplasty (n = 103), and radical intravelar veloplasty (n = 31), whereas the senior author performed the overlapping intravelar veloplasty (n = 26). Cleft severity proportions were equivalent across the four methods (p = 0.28). Patients who underwent overlapping intravelar veloplasty demonstrated significantly better velopharyngeal function, and none required further imaging or secondary surgery compared with the other three procedures (p < 0.001). Conclusions: Speech resonance outcomes at 3 years of age are improved and need for secondary velopharyngeal dysfunction management is reduced with more aggressive levator dissection and reconstruction during primary one-stage palatoplasty. Results were best when the muscle was overlapped.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-141
Number of pages11
JournalPlastic and reconstructive surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 4 2015


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