Speech and Speech-Related Quality of Life After Late Palate Repair: A Patient's Perspective.
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Many patients with cleft palate deformities worldwide receive treatment at a later age than is recommended for normal speech to develop. The outcomes after late palate repairs in terms of speech and quality of life (QOL) still remain largely unstudied. In the current study, questionnaires were used to assess the patients' perception of speech and QOL before and after primary palate repair. All of the patients were operated at a cleft center in northeast India and had a cleft palate with a normal lip or with a cleft lip that had been previously repaired. A total of 134 patients (7-35 years) were interviewed preoperatively and 46 patients (7-32 years) were assessed in the postoperative survey. The survey showed that scores based on the speech handicap index, concerning speech and speech-related QOL, did not improve postoperatively. In fact, the questionnaires indicated that the speech became more unpredictable (P < 0.01) and that nasal regurgitation became worse (P < 0.01) for some patients after surgery. A total of 78% of the patients were still satisfied with the surgery and all of the patients reported that their self-confidence had improved after the operation. Thus, the majority of interviewed patients who underwent late primary palate repair were satisfied with the surgery. At the same time, speech and speech-related QOL did not improve according to the speech handicap index-based survey. Speech predictability may even become worse and nasal regurgitation may increase after late palate repair, according to these results.