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Speech Outcomes after Tonsillectomy in Patients with Known Velopharyngeal Insufficiency

International Journal of Otolaryngology
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Introduction. Controversy exists over whether tonsillectomy will affect speech in patients with known velopharyngeal insufficiency (VPI), particularly in those with cleft palate. Methods. All patients seen at the OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital VPI clinic between 1997 and 2010 with VPI who underwent tonsillectomy were reviewed. Speech parameters were assessed before and after tonsillectomy. Wilcoxon rank-sum testing was used to evaluate for significance. Results. A total of 46 patients with VPI underwent tonsillectomy during this period. Twenty-three had pre- and postoperative speech evaluation sufficient for analysis. The majority (87%) had a history of cleft palate. Indications for tonsillectomy included obstructive sleep apnea in 11 (48%) and staged tonsillectomy prior to pharyngoplasty in 10 (43%). There was no significant difference between pre- and postoperative speech intelligibility or velopharyngeal competency in this population. Conclusion. In this study, tonsillectomy in patients with VPI did not significantly alter speech intelligibility or velopharyngeal competence.

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