Magnetic resonance imaging in the evaluation of occult submucous cleft palate

D. P. Kuehn, S. L. Ettema, M. S. Goldwasser, J. C. Barkmeier, J. M. Wachtel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To explore the application of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in the evaluation of patients with occult submucous cleft palate and to use the MRI information obtained to aid in the treatment decision to perform surgery versus behavioral speech therapy. Design: Prospective study with magnetic resonance (MR) images of subjects suspected of having occult submucous cleft palate. Setting: Hospital and university-based. Patients: Two girls who were 4 years old at the time of palatal surgery. Intervention: Furlow double-opposing Z-plasty. Main outcome measures: MR images and clinical speech evaluations. Results: MR images provided evidence of an interruption of levator veli palatini muscle tissue in the midline and a substantial attachment of levator muscle tissue to the posterior border of the hard palate. In addition, MR images for both subjects demonstrated remarkably similar bilateral encapsulating sheaths that contained nonmuscular tissue, as confirmed subsequently during surgery. The encapsulating sheaths interrupted the normal progression of the levator muscle sling across the midline. The MR images led to the decision to perform surgery instead of speech therapy. Hypernasality was markedly reduced in both subjects after surgery. Conclusions: MRI is an effective technique for diagnosing occult submucous cleft palate and may be an important aid in the treatment decision regarding surgery versus behavioral speech therapy for patients diagnosed with occult submucous cleft palate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)421-431
Number of pages11
JournalCleft Palate-Craniofacial Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 26 2001


  • Furlow palatoplasty
  • Hypernasal speech
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Occult submucous cleft palate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oral Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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