Evaluation of Discipline-Specific Outcomes Through a Multidisciplinary Team Clinic for Patients With Isolated Cleft Palate

Cleft Palate Craniofac J. 2021 Dec;58(12):1517-1525. doi: 10.1177/1055665621990174. Epub 2021 Feb 4.


Objective: To describe the incidence and timing of provider-specific interventions for children with isolated cleft palate.

Design: This was a retrospective cohort study involving review of medical records.

Setting: Multidisciplinary team care clinic at a tertiary academic children's hospital between January 2000 and July 2019.

Patients: Patients with isolated nonsyndromic cleft palate seen by an American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association-approved team; 138 children were included.

Main outcome measures: Study outcomes included incidence of secondary velopharyngeal management, tympanostomy tube insertion, speech therapy, hearing loss, dental/orthodontic treatment, and psychology interventions. Provider-specific outcomes were calculated for patients at ages 0 to 3, 3 to 5, and >5 years.

Results: Median follow-up time was 7.0 years (interquartile range: 3.3-11.8 years). At their last team assessment, 42% of patients still had conductive hearing loss. The rate of tympanostomy tube insertions not done alongside a palatoplasty was highest for ages 3 to 5 and dropped after new American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation guidelines in 2013 (P = .015); 54% of patients received speech-language therapy during follow-up. Palatoplasty, psychology, and dental/orthodontic treatment were all less common than speech or ENT treatment (P < .01). Secondary palatoplasty was performed in 31 patients (22%). Patients who received speech, dental/orthodontic, or psychology intervention followed up longer than those who did not (9.8 vs 2.1 years, P < .001).

Conclusion: Half of the patients terminated team follow-up by age 7, suggesting that burden of care outweighed perceived benefits of continued follow-up for many families. These results can be used to adjust protocols for children with isolated cleft palate.

Keywords: ethics/health policies; nonsyndromic clefting; palatoplasty; quality of life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cleft Palate* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Middle Ear Ventilation
  • Patient Care Team
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Speech
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Velopharyngeal Insufficiency* / surgery