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Plast Reconstr Surg. 1997 May;99(6):1522-9; discussion 1530-4.

Need for velopharyngeal management following palatoplasty: an outcome analysis of syndromic and nonsyndromic patients with Robin sequence.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Plastic and Reconstructive, Cleft Palate Craniofacial Deformities Institute, St. Louis Children's Hospital, Mo., USA.


The Robin sequence is a pathogenetically and etiologically heterogeneous condition that can be a nonsyndromic anomaly or one feature of many syndromes. Little information is available regarding the distribution of patients having Robin sequence, with or without associated syndromes, who develop velopharyngeal dysfunction. In order to discern whether patients with Robin sequence, nonsyndromic and/or syndromic, have different velopharyngeal dysfunction rates from those observed among all patients undergoing palatoplasty during the same time period, a retrospective study was undertaken. The charts of 873 patients with overt clefts of the secondary palate managed at a single cleft center between 1978 and 1992 were reviewed. Diagnostic criteria for Robin sequence included cleft palate without cleft lip, microretrognathia, and perinatal respiratory and/or feeding difficulties; 79 such patients (9 percent) were identified from the initial group of 873. Of these, 58 patients (7 percent) were at least 3 years of age and had sufficient follow-up to allow for evaluation of speech outcome by an experienced speech pathologist through a variety of methodologies (videonasendoscopy, speech videofluoroscopy, perceptual speech characteristics). This group comprised the Robin sequence study population. All Robin sequence patients' charts were reviewed by a medical geneticist to confirm the presence or absence of a syndrome. Of the original 873 patients, there were 127 non-Robin sequence patients who were sufficiently cooperative in diagnostic testing to yield definitive information. This group comprised the non-Robin sequence study population. Among nonsyndromic Robin sequence patients, 15 of 34 (44 percent) developed velopharyngeal dysfunction and required velopharyngeal management, while 2 of 24 syndromic patients (8 percent) developed velopharyngeal dysfunction (p = 0.003). Of the 127 non-Robin sequence isolated cleft palate patients, 113 were nonsyndromic, of whom 18 percent (20 of 113) required velopharyngeal dysfunction management, and 14 were syndromic, of whom 64 percent (9 of 14) required velopharyngeal dysfunction management (p = 0.00009). We conclude that nonsyndromic Robin sequence patients have a higher rate of postpalatoplasty velopharyngeal dysfunction than the nonsyndromic non-Robin sequence cleft population. Outcome analysis of velopharyngeal function in cleft patients should take into account patients who have cleft palate in association with Robin sequence, with or without a recognizable syndrome.

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