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Plast Reconstr Surg. 2005 Jul;116(1):72-80; discussion 81-4.

Furlow palatoplasty for management of velopharyngeal insufficiency: a prospective study of 148 consecutive patients.

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Division of Pediatric Otolaryngology, Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA.



The objectives of the study were to describe speech outcomes in a large series of patients undergoing Furlow palatoplasty for management of velopharyngeal insufficiency and to test whether preoperative velopharyngeal gap size and other patient characteristics significantly affect those outcomes.


Data collected included age at the time of surgery, surgeon, type of cleft, syndrome diagnosis, preoperative velopharyngeal gap size as determined by videonasendoscopy, and preoperative and postoperative perceptual speech assessments. Descriptive statistics were generated and ordinal logistic regression on the outcome variable, postoperative velopharyngeal insufficiency severity score, was performed.


In this series of 154 patients, 148 had complete perceptual speech data. Of these 148 patients, 72 percent had improvement in velopharyngeal insufficiency severity after the procedure and 56 percent had complete resolution of velopharyngeal insufficiency. Postoperative insufficiency was scored as none or minimal (i.e., resolution) in 38 of 52 patients (73 percent) with a small preoperative velopharyngeal gap, 26 of 51 patients (51 percent) with a moderate preoperative gap, and four of 21 patients (19 percent) with a large preoperative gap. Preoperative velopharyngeal gap size was significantly associated (p < 0.0001) with postoperative insufficiency on ordinal multivariate logistic regression after controlling for preoperative insufficiency and other covariates. There was not a significant association between syndrome diagnosis, age at Furlow palatoplasty (younger than 5 years versus older), gender, surgeon, or presence of submucous cleft palate and postoperative speech outcome, in either the unadjusted or adjusted analyses.


Preoperative velopharyngeal gap size, as determined with nasendoscopy, was significantly associated with postoperative velopharyngeal insufficiency severity after Furlow palatoplasty. Small gap size is associated with a greater likelihood of resolution.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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