Palatal Protective Stents Prevent Oro-Nasal Fistulas after Surgery for Velopharyngeal Insufficiency: A Preliminary Report

Dent J (Basel). 2018 Jul 4;6(3):29. doi: 10.3390/dj6030029.


Background: One of the potential complications of surgery for velopharyngeal insufficiency (VPI) is postoperative oral-nasal fistula (ONF). Reported rates vary from 0 to 60%. Several factors are on account of these disproportionate rates.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to describe the use of a palatal protective stent (PPS) to preserve the VPI repair surgical site and to study its effectiveness for decreasing the incidence of postoperative ONF.

Materials and methods: A retrospective study was carried out. All patients undergoing surgery for VPI with complete preoperative and postoperative evaluations including at least one year follow up after surgery from 2012 to 2016 were studied. Some of the patients were operated on using a pre-molded palatal protective stent (PPS). Twenty-seven patients were included in the study group. Most of the patients underwent a customized pharyngeal flap according to findings of imaging procedures. The remaining cases underwent a Furlow palatoplasty. Twelve patients were operated on using PPS.

Results: There were no surgical complications during the procedures. ONF was detected in four of the patients operated on without PPS. None of the patients undergoing surgery using PPS demonstrated ONF. All fistulas were located at the soft/hard palate junction. VPI was corrected in 92% of the cases.

Conclusion: Although only a reduced number of cases were studied, these preliminary results suggest that using PPS during surgical procedures for correcting VPI is a safe and reliable tool for preventing ONF.

Keywords: cleft palate; fistula; resonance; speech; surgery.