Conversion Furlow Palatoplasty: Salvage of Speech After Straight-Line Palatoplasty and “Incomplete Intravelar Veloplasty”

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Abstract

Introduction:

The straight-line palatoplasty with intravelar veloplasty (IVVP) is one option for cleft palate repair. However, not all IVVPs are performed uniformly. Many IVVPs only address the medialmost portion of the levator muscle, an “incomplete IVVP,” failing to completely dissect and adequately transpose the entire levator muscle, “complete IVVP.” We believe that for optimal speech results, IVVPs should completely mobilize and posteriorly displace the levator. We propose that a conversion Furlow palatoplasty performed with a “complete IVVP” will correct postoperative velopharyngeal insufficiency (VPI) and alleviate the need for pharyngoplasty.

Methods:

Nineteen patients with postoperative VPI, having had prior straight-line palatoplasty and reported “IVVP,” underwent conversion Furlow palatoplasty. Those with a pre-and postoperative Pittsburgh Weighted Speech Scale (PWSS) value and no other history of palatal surgeries were included in this study. Statistical analysis was performed by using the Wilcoxon signed ranks test.

Results:

Patients’ median age was 5.5 years (range, 4–15 years), with 13 males and 7 females. The median preoperative PWSS score was 11.00 (range, 3–24.5), and the median postoperative was 1.00 (range, 0–5) (P < 0.001). All subcategories of the PWSS were also improved. Eight children had a preoperative fistula, and all were successfully corrected. At the time of conversion Furlow palatoplasty, all patients demonstrated no evidence of previous IVVP as the levator muscle was found to be scarred to the posterior edge of the hard palate.

Conclusion:

The conversion Furlow palatoplasty can be used to significantly improve VPI and salvage speech after a straight-line palatoplasty with an “incomplete IVVP.” Patients with postoperative VPI should first be considered for conversion Furlow palatoplasty performed with a “complete IVVP” prior to progressing to pharyngoplasty.

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