Velopharyngeal insufficiency rates after delayed cleft palate repair: Lessons learned from internationally adopted patients

Keith E. Follmar, Nance Yuan, Courtney S. Pendleton, Amir H. Dorafshar, Craig Vander Kolk, Richard J. Redett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Most surgeons recommend cleft palate repair between 6 and 12 months of age. Internationally adopted patients often undergo delayed repair due to social circumstances. There are few outcomes studies on this population. We conducted a 13-year retrospective review of all patients undergoing primary cleft palate repair at a single tertiary-care academic medical center between 1993 and 2006. The primary outcome was velopharyngeal insufficiency, defined as the recommendation for corrective surgery after multiple formal speech assessments. Two hundred one patients (102 males and 99 females) were identified. One hundred eighty-three repairs were performed before 18 months of age (standard repair group). Eighteen repairs were performed after 18 months of age (delayed repair group), with international adoption being a circumstance in 16 cases. The delayed and standard repair groups were similar with regard to sex, presence of craniofacial syndrome, Veau class, cleft size and laterality, type of repair, and operating surgeon. Mean follow-up was 9.3 years, with minimum follow-up of 5.0 years. Six (33%) of 18 patients in the delayed repair group developed velopharyngeal insufficiency compared to 23 (13%) of 183 in the standard repair group (P = 0.03 by Fisher exact test). These data demonstrate that internationally adopted patients undergoing delayed palate repair suffer especially poor speech outcomes. Physiologic differences in patients undergoing late repair, as well as social factors including adaptation to a new language and culture, may be factors. Early repair should be performed when possible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)302-305
Number of pages4
JournalAnnals of plastic surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 22 2015


  • cleft palate
  • delayed repair
  • international adoption
  • velopharyngeal insufficiency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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