Velopharyngeal Insufficiency (VPI) occurs when the palate and the back wall of the throat do not contact correctly. VPI results in too much air escape from the nose during speech. Parents may notice a rustle of air during speech or an inability to say high-pressured sounds, including b, p, t, s or sh. This speech pattern often occurs in patients who have had a cleft palate repair or have a diagnosis of 22q11, but it can also occur in isolation.
Evaluation of VPI is performed with and ENT and speech therapist working together. A small camera is placed in the patient’s nose and used to watch the palate motion during speech sounds. Our Pediatric Otolaryngologists work closely with experienced Speech Therapists at Advocate Children’s Hospital as well as with the Cleft and Craniofacial Team to provide full evaluations.
Treatment for VPI begins with speech therapy. Some children will require surgery to move some tissue in the back of the throat to allow the palate and throat to work better.