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Ann Plast Surg. 2006 May;56(5):511-7; discussion 517.

Diagnosis and treatment of velopharyngeal insufficiency: clinical utility of speech evaluation and videofluoroscopy.

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  • 1Division of Plastic Surgery, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.



The workup of velopharyngeal insufficiency (VPI) includes speech pathology evaluation and examination of velopharyngeal anatomy and physiology. This study sought to determine whether perceptual speech symptoms were predictive of velopharyngeal closure.


A retrospective chart review of patients with VPI following primary palatoplasty was performed. All patients underwent perceptual speech evaluation using the Pittsburgh Weighted Speech Scale (PWSS) and examination of velopharyngeal anatomy by videofluoroscopy. PWSS scores were correlated to velopharyngeal closure.


All patients exhibited clinical VPI (PWSS = 5-27). No patient demonstrated complete velopharyngeal closure on videofluoroscopy. Velopharyngeal closure on the lateral view showed a statistically significant, moderate correlation with both the PWSS total score (rs = -0.424; P = 0.03) and the phonation subscore (rs = -0.405; P = 0.04).


Although certain aspects of speech are related to velopharyngeal anatomy, speech and videofluoroscopic studies each provide unique information in the workup of VPI. Selection of surgical approach often depends on anatomic factors, and improvement in speech postoperatively indicates successful treatment.

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