Objective To assess speech results and rate of obstructive sleep apnea using a modified, superiorly based pharyngeal flap performed after staged adenotonsillectomy in a group with velopharyngeal insufficiency.
Methods In this nonrandomized, retrospective case series (July 1, 1996, through June 30, 2003), patients were mainly children referred to a multispecialty craniofacial clinic. Patients underwent staged adenotonsillectomy 2 months before width-customized pharyngeal flap surgery. Short flaps were created high above the level of the palate, just long enough to reach the nasal surface. Donor sites were closed by superior advancement of the inferior posterior pharyngeal wall tissue. Cardiopulmonary and oximetry data were analyzed for immediate obstructive apnea. Speech results and airway symptoms were assessed at 6-month and yearly follow-up examinations.
Results In the 54 consecutive patients who underwent staged adenotonsillectomy, no apnea occurred immediately after surgery. Long-term clinical examination revealed 4 cases of loud snoring. Polysomnographic results were negative in all cases. Complications included 3 cases of bleeding, 1 requiring transfusion. Velopharyngeal insufficiency was eliminated in 94% of patients.
Conclusion Complications related to obstructive sleep apnea have been significantly reduced while maintaining excellent speech results by a staged approach of removing tonsils and adenoids and by creating a short, high, wide, superiorly based pharyngeal flap with superior advancement of the inferior posterior wall to close the donor site.