What’s New in Cleft Palate and Velopharyngeal Dysfunction Management?

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Learning Objectives:After studying this article, the participant should be able to: 1. Have a clear understanding of the evolution of concepts of velopharyngeal dysfunction, especially as it relates to patients with a cleft palate. 2. Explain the subjective and objective evaluation of speech in children with velopharyngeal dysfunction. 3. On the basis of these diagnostic findings, be able to classify types of velopharyngeal dysfunction. 4. Develop a safe, evidence-based, patient-customized treatment plan for velopharyngeal dysfunction founded on objective considerations.Summary:Velopharyngeal dysfunction is improper function of the dynamic structures that work to control the velopharyngeal sphincter. Approximately 30 percent of patients having undergone cleft palate repair require secondary surgery for velopharyngeal dysfunction. A multidisciplinary team using multimodal instruments to evaluate velopharyngeal function and speech should manage these patients. Instruments may include perceptual speech analysis, video nasopharyngeal endoscopy, multiview speech videofluoroscopy, nasometry, pressure-flow, and magnetic resonance imaging. Velopharyngeal dysfunction may be amenable to surgical or nonsurgical treatment methods or a combination of each. Nonsurgical management may include speech therapy or prosthetic devices. Surgical interventions could include palatal re-repair with repositioning of levator veli palatini muscles, posterior pharyngeal flap, sphincter pharyngoplasty, or soft palate or posterior wall augmentation. Treatment interventions should be based on objective assessment and rating of the movement of lateral and posterior pharyngeal walls and the palate to optimize speech outcomes. Treatment should be tailored to specific anatomical and physiologic findings and the overall needs of the patient.

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