Injection Pharyngoplasty With Autologous Fat as Treatment for Stress Velopharyngeal Insufficiency in Brass and Woodwind Musicians

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Abstract

Importance

Stress velopharyngeal insufficiency (SVPI) is an uncommon but often career-threatening condition affecting professional brass and woodwind musicians.

Objectives

To review the evaluation of and treatment for SVPI in professional musicians with lipoinjection to the posterior pharyngeal wall.

Design, Setting, and Participants

A retrospective medical record and literature review. Two professional musicians with SVPI treated with autologous lipoinjection to the posterior pharyngeal wall were included. Nasopharyngoscopy was performed while patients played their instrument both before and after injection.

Main Outcomes and Measures

To assess the effectiveness of autologous fat injection to the posterior pharyngeal wall to treat stress velopharyngeal insufficiency in 2 professional instrumentalists. Successful treatment was the absence of VPI during playing as visualized by flexible nasopharyngoscopy.

Results

After autologous lipoinjection of the posterior pharyngeal wall, 1 patient resumed full play with complete resolution, now 3 years after lipoinjection pharyngoplasty. The other patient received temporary resolution. Both had no surgical complications. Stress VPI is often a career-threatening condition for professional brass and woodwind musicians, with a cited incidence of 34%. Various treatment options in the literature include observation, speech and language pathology referral for pharyngeal strengthening, lipoinjection of the soft palate, and more invasive options, such as sphincter pharyngoplasty, pharyngeal flaps and V-Y pushback.

Conclusions and Relevance

Autologous fat injection pharyngoplasty of the posterior pharyngeal wall may be a less invasive treatment option for musicians with SVPI.

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