The identification of variables potentially correlated with speech outcome, following posterior pharyngeal fat grafting for treatment of velopharyngeal insufficiency (VPI), can provide useful information to guide decision-making and preoperative counseling. This study assessed the predictors of speech outcome after posterior pharyngeal fat grafting for VPI management.
One hundred and sixty-seven consecutive patients with repaired cleft palate and VPI who underwent posterior pharyngeal fat grafting were retrospectively enrolled. Perceptual speech and nasendoscopic parameters were randomly rated by 3 blinded evaluators. Speech outcome was stratified based on previously published criteria. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were performed to identify independent predictors of 15-month postoperative speech outcomes.
Large velopharyngeal gap, higher number of previous palatal surgical procedures, and referral pattern (ie, patients who underwent primary palatoplasty elsewhere) were independently negative (for all, P < 0.05) predictors of speech outcome, whereas small velopharyngeal gap size was positively (P < 0.05) correlated with this outcome. Age, sex, race, Veau hierarchy, syndromic diagnosis, Angle classification of malocclusion, type of primary palatoplasty, body mass index, obstructive sleep apnea-related scores, surgical period, donor site, grafted volume, recipient site-related complications, and preoperative status (velopharyngeal closure pattern, hypernasality, audible nasal emissions, and intraoral pressure) were not associated (for all, P > 0.05) with speech outcomes.
Posterior pharyngeal fat grafting improves speech function in patients with VPI, whereas gap size, number of previous palatal surgeries, and referral pattern affect the speech outcome.