Cleft palate is one of the challenging problems in the field of craniofacial surgery. In particular, the conventional methods of bilateral and severe cleft palate repairs have failed to achieve normal speech. In most instances, secondary procedures such as pharyngoplasty and pharyngeal flap surgery are performed to improve speech.
This study introduces secondary palatal elongation (SPE) as a new approach to cleft palate repair. The patients included usually had a short palate and unrepaired palatal muscles. The authors’ procedure involved dissecting the previously repaired palatal mucosa and pushing back and cutting the nasal mucosa of the palate horizontally and further pushing it back. Then, 1 or 2 buccal mucosal flaps were used to repair the nasal mucosal defect of the palate. In case of unrepaired veloplasty from the primary surgery, the levator muscles were dissected and sutured together to perform veloplasty. The range of palatal elongation was 15 to 25 mm.
Secondary palatal elongation has been performed on 17 patients since 2007 with a high rate of speech improvement. Based on this 9-year experience with performing SPE, SPE is a radical anatomic technique of palatal elongation as compared with pharyngoplasty and pharyngeal flap surgery. All 17 patients who underwent SPE showed improvement in speech, from very poor to poor speech and from normal to good speech.