Posterior pharyngeal flap and sphincter pharyngoplasty: the state of the art

Cleft Palate Craniofac J. 2000 Mar;37(2):112-22. doi: 10.1597/1545-1569_2000_037_0112_ppfasp_2.3.co_2.


Surgical management of velopharyngeal insufficiency by attachment of posterior pharyngeal flap or construction of sphincter pharyngoplasty is reviewed. Posterior pharyngeal flap surgery is well established, with a long history dating back to the 19th century. Flaps have been based superiorly, inferiorly, or laterally. There have been reports of airway obstruction and obstructive sleep apnea associated with posterior pharyngeal flap surgery. The concept of surgical creation of a dynamic sphincter pharyngoplasty to provide velopharyngeal closure was first introduced by Hynes in 1950. Hynes and others have proposed several subsequent anatomic modifications. Airway dysfunction has also been reported following sphincter pharyngoplasty, but may not be as frequent or severe as with posterior pharyngeal flap. While several studies have compared posterior pharyngeal flap and sphincter pharyngoplasty in terms of speech outcome or complications, there is not, as yet, a consensus regarding the specific choice of one versus the other for surgical management of velopharyngeal insufficiency.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cleft Palate / complications
  • Cleft Palate / surgery
  • Humans
  • Oral Surgical Procedures* / adverse effects
  • Pharyngeal Muscles / surgery*
  • Pharynx / surgery*
  • Plastic Surgery Procedures / adverse effects
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / etiology
  • Surgical Flaps / adverse effects
  • Velopharyngeal Insufficiency / surgery*