Evaluating the Accuracy of Using at Rest Images to Determine the Height of Velopharyngeal Closure

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Prior to performing secondary surgeries, lateral cephalograms have been used during phonation to evaluate the point of attempted velopharyngeal contact along the posterior pharyngeal wall relative to the palatal plane and the first cervical vertebra. The ability to quantify the height of velopharyngeal closure is an important aspect of planning corrective surgeries for velopharyngeal dysfunction. However, issues with patient compliance during the imaging process can present difficulties for obtaining adequate preoperative imaging data. The purpose of this study was to assess if the height of velopharyngeal closure can be accurately estimated and quantified from at rest images. Results demonstrate that the height of velopharyngeal closure above C1 can be accurately quantified using at rest images in children with cleft palate. No statistically significant difference was found between the measures obtained at rest or during sustained phonation images (P = 0.573). Thus, quantitative measures from at rest images can aid in the preoperative planning process by providing surgeons with a numeric distance for tissue insertion along the posterior pharyngeal wall above C1. This distance is correlated to the height of velopharyngeal closure and successfully placing tissue at this height is likely tied to improved postoperative speech outcomes.

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