Long-Term Incidence of Velopharyngeal Insufficiency and Other Sequelae following Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty

Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2017 Apr;156(4):606-610. doi: 10.1177/0194599816688646. Epub 2017 Jan 24.


Objective The aim of this study is to (1) assess incidence of long-term velopharyngeal insufficiency (VPI) and (2) determine other sequelae following classic and modified uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP and mUPPP) for treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Data Sources Medline, PubMed, Cochrane Library database. Review Methods A systematic review was performed following standard Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. Original research articles reporting on sequelae of UPPP and mUPPP for treatment of OSA, at a mean of 1 year follow-up, were included. Articles were retrieved using keywords UPPP complications and UPPP questionnaire. A random-effects model was used for pooling data. Results A total of 24 studies were included in this review. Complications included VPI (24 studies, n = 191), difficulty swallowing (7 studies, n = 83), taste disturbances (4 studies, n = 10), voice changes (7 studies, n = 46), foreign body (9 studies, n = 427), and dry pharynx (7 studies, n = 150). When pooling all studies together, VPI was the least common sequelae reported in 8.1% of the cases. Foreign body sensation was the most commonly reported sequelae at 31.2%, with difficulty swallowing (17.7%), dry pharynx (23.4%), voice changes (9.5%), and taste disturbances (8.2%) being the most to least likely. Conclusions The long-term effectiveness of UPPP and mUPPP is limited by the number of studies reporting short-term follow-up only. Despite this, long-term data suggest that complications such as VPI are more common than previously reported. Other sequelae, such as foreign body sensation, may be one of the most frequently expected complications after UPPP surgery.

Keywords: difficulty swallowing; dry pharynx; foreign body; taste disturbance; uvulopalatopharyngoplasty; velopharyngeal insufficiency; voice change.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Otorhinolaryngologic Surgical Procedures / adverse effects*
  • Palate, Soft / surgery*
  • Pharynx / surgery*
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / surgery*
  • Uvula / surgery
  • Velopharyngeal Insufficiency / epidemiology
  • Velopharyngeal Insufficiency / etiology*