Velopharyngeal Function Assessment in Patients With Cleft Palate: Perceptual Speech Assessment Versus Nasopharyngoscopy

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There is no doubt that perceptual speech assessment and instrumental examination could provide different diagnostic information on patients with cleft palate (CP), but not all patients simultaneously need the 2 examinations. So the purposes of this study were to explore a simple and effective evaluation method to assess velopharyngeal function and to investigate speech traits that affect the diagnosis of velopharyngeal function in patients with CP. The investigators implemented a retrospective study, and 247 postoperative patients with CP were selected, including 155 boys and 92 girls, with a mean (SD) age of 13 years and 2 months (7 years and 7 months). All of these patients were assessed by perceptual speech evaluation and nasopharyngoscopy after surgery, and the result was divided into velopharyngeal closure (VPC), velopharyngeal insufficiency, and marginal VPC. The number of diagnostic consistency patients was 170 (VPC, 51 patients; velopharyngeal insufficiency, 115 patients; marginal VPC, 4 patients), and the consistent ratio was 68.83%. There was no significant difference between perceptual speech assessment and nasopharyngoscopy. Furthermore, the difference in distribution of hypernasality between the consistent group and the inconsistent group was significant. In addition, the correlation analysis indicated that surgical age, hypernasality, nasal emission, and compensatory articulation were correlated with the velopharyngeal function (P < 0.05). In conclusion, perceptual speech assessment could make a correct diagnosis in the absence of instrumental examination. The severity of hypernasality might affect the diagnosis of the velopharyngeal function. Much more attention should be paid to the surgical age, the alteration of hypernasality, nasal emission, and compensatory articulation during CP therapy.

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