Cleft & Craniofacial Team at St. Mary's

804-287-7396

Velopharyngeal insufficiency

Velopharyngeal insufficiency (VPI) occurs when air and sound escape from the child’s nose during speech. This produces speech that sounds nasal in quality. VPI may lead to hoarseness or fatigue of your child’s voice.

Causes

Normal speech is produced when the soft palate closes off the nasal cavity, allowing the air to escape through the mouth. Velopharyngeal insufficiency is caused when the soft palate cannot block off the nasal cavity, letting the air go out through the nose.

Treatment

The first step in diagnosing and treating velopharyngeal insufficiency is making sure that your child has normal hearing and no signs of an ear infection. The next step is taking your child to a speech therapist where he/she can listen to your child’s voice. Sometimes, speech therapy alone can improve your child’s speech disorder. In cases of severe speech disorders, surgery may be required. The timing and type of surgery depends on your child’s condition and on the plastic surgeon. Further speech therapy may be required after surgery. Our comprehensive team can offer an ENT surgeon, speech therapist and plastic surgeon who specialize in diagnosing and treating your child’s VPI.

To learn more about velopharyngeal insufficiency, please call 804-287-7396 to speak with our nurse coordinator, Linda Shait, RN.