A Comparison of the Need for Speech Therapy After 2 Palatal Repair Techniques

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Reconstruction of the levator musculature during cleft palate repair has been suggested to be important in long-term speech outcomes. In this study, we compare the need for postoperative speech therapy between 2 intravelar veloplasty techniques.


Chart review was performed for patients with nonsyndromic cleft palate who underwent either primary Kriens or overlapping intravelar veloplasty before 18 months of age. All subjects completed a follow-up visit at approximately 3 years of age. Data obtained included documentation of ongoing or recommended speech therapy at age 3 years and reasons for speech therapy, which were categorized as cleft-related and non–cleft-related by a speech-language pathologist.


One surgeon performed all Kriens procedures (n = 81), and the senior author performed all overlapping procedures (n = 25). Mean age at surgery (Kriens = 13.5 ± 1.4 months; overlapping = 13.1 ± 1.5 months; P = 0.188) and age at 3-year follow-up (Kriens = 3.0 ± 0.5 years; overlapping = 2.8 ± 0.5 years; P = 0.148) were equivalent in both groups. Cleft severity by Veau classification (P = 0.626), prepalatoplasty pure tone averages, (P = 0.237), pure tone averages at 3-year follow-up (P = 0.636), and incidence of prematurity (P = 0.190) were also similar between the 2 groups. At 3 years of age, significantly fewer overlapping intravelar veloplasty patients required cleft-related speech therapy (Kriens = 47%; overlapping = 20%; P = 0.015). The proportions of patients requiring non–cleft-related speech therapy were equivalent (P = 0.906).


At 3 years of age, patients who received overlapping intravelar veloplasty were significantly less likely to need cleft-related speech therapy compared with patients who received Kriens intravelar veloplasty. Cleft severity, hearing loss, and prematurity at birth did not appear to explain the difference found in need for speech therapy.

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