Surgical management in submucous cleft palate patients

B. J. A. Smarius*, C. H. A. L. Guillaume, J. Slegers, A. B. Mink van der Molen, C. C. Breugem

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objectives: The submucous cleft palate (SMCP) is considered to be the most subtle type of cleft palate. Early detection is important to allow on time intervention by speech therapy and/or surgical repair before the children already develop compensatory speech mechanisms. The purpose of this study was to investigate at what time children with a SMCP present, to determine when children are operated, and to analyze the postoperative outcomes for in SMCP children. Patient and methods: Medical records from 766 individuals registered in the cleft registry in the Wilhelmina’s Children’s’ Hospital, Utrecht, were retrospectively reviewed. Inclusion criteria were children diagnosed with SMCP. The following data were collected: age at diagnosis, physical examination, age at surgery, surgical technique, speech therapy pre- and post-surgery, otitis media, secondary cleft surgery, family history, syndromes, and other anomalies. Results: In total, 56 SMCP children were identified. The mean age of diagnosis was 44.0 months (range 0–150, SD = 37.0). In 48 children (85.7%), surgical intervention was performed (Furlow plasty, intravelar veloplasty, pharyngoplasty, or Furlow combined with buccal flap). Conclusion: This retrospective study reconfirms that SMCP often presents late, even in a country with a modern healthcare system and adequate follow-up of all newborns by the so-called youth doctors in “children’s healthcare centers” up to the age of 4 years old. Almost 86% of patients ultimately needed palate surgery when SMCP was suspected. Clinical relevance: Any child presenting with repeated episodes of otitis media, nasal regurgitation, or speech difficulties should have prompt consideration for SMCP as diagnosis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3893-3903
Number of pages11
JournalClinical Oral Investigations
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes

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