Velopharyngeal Function of Patients With Cleft Palate After Primary Palatoplasty: Relevance of Sex, Age, and Cleft Type

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PurposeThe aim of this study was to investigate the relevance of sex, age, and cleft type to velopharyngeal function after primary Sommerlad palatoplasty so as to improve velopharyngeal function after the procedure.Patients and MethodsRecords of 503 patients with nonsyndromic cleft palate after primary Sommerlad palatoplasty were included in the retrospective study. Relevance between their velopharyngeal function and sex, age, and cleft type was analyzed. Statistical analysis was performed using SPSS 13.0 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL).ResultsThere were no significant differences of velopharyngeal competence (VPC) rates between different sexes (P = 0.635). Specifically, VPC rates were significantly higher in younger-than-2-years groups than in older age groups (P < 0.05) and significantly lower in 6-years-or-older group (P < 0.05). No differences were found among 2- to 6-year-old groups (P > 0.05). The VPC rates were significantly lower in the bilateral complete cleft palate and the unilateral complete cleft palate than in the incomplete cleft palate before 2 years old (P < 0.05), whereas there were no significant differences totally (P = 0.875). Results showed that the disparity of the VPC rate among different cleft types would decrease with age. Moreover, results of multivariate logistic regression also indicated that operation age and cleft type are factors influencing velopharyngeal function.ConclusionsPrimary palatoplasty should be completed before 2 years old, and the postoperative velopharygeal function will greatly decreases after 6 years old. The influence of cleft type on velopharyngeal function is limited to young patients. For those who have missed the best surgical timing, appropriate delay of operation age is reasonable, especially for patients with complete cleft palate. For patients 4 to 6 years old, the first choice is still simple palatoplasty no matter which cleft type they are classified into.

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