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Laryngorhinootologie. 2010 Jan;89(1):29-33. doi: 10.1055/s-0029-1234044. Epub 2009 Jul 30.

[Submucous cleft palate--an often late diagnosed malformation].

[Article in German]

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Univ.-Klinik Ulm, HNO, Sektion Phoniatrie, Frauensteige 12, Ulm.



Submucous cleft palate (SMCP) is often diagnosed very late and can cause velopharyngeal insufficiency with open nasal speech and Eustachian tube dysfunction.


A retrospective analysis of 106 patients (100 children, 6 adults) who had been surgically treated for SMCP was made. Age of diagnosis, physician who initially diagnosed the SMCP, typical symptoms for cleft palate, clinical examination of the palate, therapy options and accompanying diseases were evaluated.


SMCP was diagnosed in 79 cases by a specialist for Phoniatrics/ENT surgery of the University and in 21 cases by a physician, who does not work at hospital at the age of 4.9 years. Main symptoms were Eustachian tube dysfunctions (61.3%) and hypernasal speech (48.1%). Typical findings of the palate were: reduced contraction (69.8%), lack of posterior nasal spine (55.7%) and bifid uvula (51.9%). In 18 patients a dysmorphic syndrome was observed and in 83% a conductive hearing loss which resolved after palatoplasty (often in combination with adenotomy and insertion of ventilation tubes). Following surgery 18 patients required speech therapy and of these 6 needed velopharyngoplasty due to continuing open nasal speech.


SMCP is often diagnosed very late, though symptoms of velopharyngeal insufficiency such as open nasal speech, Eustachian tube dysfunction and reduced contraction of the palate with bifid uvula are present. It is also often found in children with craniofacial dysmorphic syndromes. We therefore recommend that all patients with such findings are examined by an appropriate specialist such as Phoniatrics, ENT-Surgeon and Oral-Maxillofacial Surgeon so that early diagnosis and palatoplasty can be performed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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