Purpose of review: Submucous cleft palate (SMCP) represents an uncommon congenital palatal anomaly with a variable rate of velopharyngeal dysfunction or resulting speech abnormality. Classic teaching regarding management of this entity involves delayed repair until a perceptual speech assessment by a skilled speech-language pathologist can be performed, typically at age 3-5 years. An assessment of timing of intervention, surgical techniques, and patient comorbidities is critical for optimized outcomes.
Recent findings: Early diagnosis and surgical intervention for SMCP are associated with improved speech outcomes. Expanding indications for surgery are being actively investigated. Timing of intervention and surgical technique may be influenced by a syndromic diagnosis, specifically 22q11.2 deletion syndrome.
Summary: Diagnosis of classic SMCP and occult SMCP may be difficult based on provider experience. Variable surgical techniques may be used with good outcomes; patient comorbidities including syndromic diagnoses may determine best surgical technique. Expanding indications for surgery and timing of repair continue to evolve and warrant additional study.