To compare the outcomes of surgical correction of velopharyngeal insufficiency (VPI) in patients with velocardiofacial syndrome (VCFS) and a non-VCFS group.
Twenty-five patients with VCFS (16 girls and 9 boys) underwent palatal lengthening for VPI between 1986 and 2001. The mean age at surgery was 6.4 years. Revision was defined as the need for secondary sphincter pharyngoplasty as determined by speech investigation, nasal endoscopy, and acoustic nasometry. A comparison was made to a control group made up of a randomized group of patients without VCFS who underwent palatal lengthening for VPI (32 patients: 10 girls and 22 boys).
Wilhelmina Children's Hospital, a tertiary referral center in Utrecht, the Netheralands.
A total of 57 patients who underwent palatal lengthening for VPI, 25 with VCFS and 32 without VCFS.
Primary surgery consisted of a palatal lengthening technique. If revision was needed, a sphincter pharyngoplasty was carried out.
Main Outcome Measures
Pharyngeal function was assessed using perceptual speech investigation, nasal endoscopy, and acoustic nasometry.
In the VCFS group, 16% of the patients required surgical revision (4 of 25). These patients were slightly older at the time of primary surgery than those who did not require surgical revision (mean age, 6 vs 5.5 years). In the control group, no patients required revision. Preoperative speech analysis showed a more pronounced VPI in the VCFS group than in the control group. Outcomes of endoscopy and speech hypernasality improved significantly more in the control group than in the VCFS group. Improvement in the results of acoustic nasometry did not differ significantly between the 2 groups.
Treatment of VPI using palatal lengthening in children with VCFS is both safe and effective. The discrepancy in improvement between the speech analysis and the nasal endoscopy results within the VCFS group indicates that mechanical improvement does not necessarily correspond to an improvement in speech and emphasizes the complexity of speech disorders found in VCFS.