Long-term speech outcome in patients with Robin sequence after cleft palate repair and tongue-lip adhesion: A 21-year retrospective analysis

Robrecht J. H. Logjes*, Joline F. Mermans, Marieke J. Coerts, Birgit I. Lissenberg-Witte, Corstiaan C. Breugem, J. Peter W. Don Griot

*Corresponding author for this work

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The purpose of this study was to assess the effect of tongue−lip adhesion (TLA) on the long-term speech and articulation outcomes of patients with Robin sequence (RS) after cleft palate repair. Outcomes were compared to those in patients with RS who required positioning alone and to patients with isolated cleft palate (ICP). All consecutive patients with RS (with or without TLA) versus isolated cleft palate (ICP) who underwent cleft palate repair were retrospectively reviewed. Speech and articulation included all assessments between the age of 3–6 years. Secondary speech operations, velopharyngeal insufficiency (VPI), hypernasality, and articulation errors by cleft-type characteristics (CTC), including 4 categories (passive), non-oral, anterior-oral, and posterior-oral. A total of 41 RS patients and 61 ICP patients underwent repair with sufficient follow-up. Of them, 23 patients underwent a TLA at median age of 12 days. Rates of hypernasality (p = 0.004), secondary speech operations (p = 0.004), and posterior oral CTC (p = 0.042) were higher in RS compared to ICP. Isolated RS had speech outcomes similar to those of ICP; however, syndromic RS patients needed more secondary speech operations compared to isolated RS (p = 0.043). TLA-RS patients did not demonstrate differences in speech outcomes or any CTCs (all p > 0.05) compared to non−TLA-RS patients, except for the anterior oral CTC (74% TLA-RS vs 28% non−TLA-RS, p = 0.005). Within the limitations of the study, it seem that TLA does not affect long-term velopharyngeal function in patients with RS. However, TLA-RS patients demonstrated higher rates of anterior-oral CTC, which might be related to a different positioning of the tongue after TLA. Every effort should be taken to treat patients with RS conservatively instead of with TLA because of this demonstrated a negative effect on one type of articulation error. However, if conservative therapy fails, a TLA is still a valuable adjunct in the treatment of RS, and cleft speech pathologists who treat such patients should be more aware of this phenomenon in order to improve long-term articulation outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Cranio-Maxillofacial Surgery
Issue number4
Early online date2023
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023

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