Velopharyngeal incompetence: a guide for clinical evaluation

Plast Reconstr Surg. 2003 Dec;112(7):1890-7; quiz 1898,1982. doi: 10.1097/01.PRS.0000091245.32905.D5.


Various causes of velopharyngeal disorders and the myriad of diagnostic methods used by speech-language pathologists and plastic surgeons for assessment are described in this article. Velopharyngeal incompetence occurs when the velum and lateral and posterior pharyngeal walls fail to separate the oral cavity from the nasal cavity during speech and deglutination. The functional goals of cleft palate operations are to facilitate normal speech and hearing without interfering with the facial growth of a child. Basic and helpful techniques are presented to help the cleft palate team identify preoperative or postoperative velopharyngeal incompetence. This information will enable any member of the multidisciplinary cleft palate team to better assist in the differential diagnosis and management of patients with speech disorders.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Speech Disorders / diagnosis
  • Speech Disorders / physiopathology
  • Velopharyngeal Insufficiency / diagnosis*
  • Velopharyngeal Insufficiency / etiology
  • Velopharyngeal Insufficiency / physiopathology