BACKGROUND: Inadequacy of speech and voice due to velopharyngeal insufficiency is a major stigma for cleft patients. Therefore, the study of this clinical condition is essential to improve the development and social relations of children with this ailment. This study aimed to assess alterations in the speech, velopharyngeal sphincter, and larynx of patients with cleft palate and cleft lip and palate who underwent to lip closure, palatoplasty, and speech therapy and developed transitory velopharyngeal insufficiency. Furthermore, these patients were compared with cleft palate and cleft lip and palate patients who developed persistent velopharyngeal insufficiency treated with lip closure, palatoplasty, speech therapy, pharyngoplasty, and complementary speech therapy.
METHODS: From June 1997 to May 2002, 132 cleft palate and cleft lip and palate patients aged between 4 years 11 months and 19 years 3 months with transitory velopharyngeal insufficiency and persistent velopharyngeal insufficiency were assessed. After applying inclusion and exclusion criteria, 44 patients, 18 females and 26 males, were divided into 2 groups: group I, 20 patients who underwent lip closure, palatoplasty and speech therapy; and group II, 24 patients who underwent lip closure, palatoplasty, speech therapy, pharyngoplasty, and complementary speech therapy. Speech therapy consisted of articulatory therapy of oral airflow, myofunctional therapy, rapid phonemic acquisition technique, and voice therapy. Surgical treatment consisted of producing a flap from the pharynx posterior wall of the upper pedicle.
RESULTS: Alterations in speech, the velopharyngeal sphincter, and the larynx were more frequent in group I than in group II.
CONCLUSIONS: Cleft patients with persistent velopharyngeal insufficiency should be treated with pharyngoplasty and complementary speech therapy in order to correct alterations in speech, the velopharyngeal sphincter, and the larynx.
Keywords: Velopharyngeal insufficiency. Larynx. Cleft palate. Humans.