Cleft and Craniofacial Center
Hasbro Children's Hospital

Velopharyngeal Insufficiency

Velopharyngeal  insufficiency (VPI) occurs when the velopharyngeal valve — which comprises the soft palate, the pharynx, and the walls of the throat — doesn’t close properly. This causes problems with swallowing and speech. Often velopharyngeal insufficiency is associated with cleft palate but can stem from a number of causes. 

Working together, these structures separate the oral and nasal cavities when a person is speaking or swallowing food or liquid. When the valve doesn’t close properly, food or excess air can escape through the nose.

VPI causes hypernasal speech and interferes with a person’s ability to correctly form the sounds that compose the spoken word. These difficulties with speech can negatively impact development and social experiences.

Our multidisciplinary team specializes in the management of VPI, including the development of new surgical procedures to correct this problem.  Our team will thoroughly evaluate your child to develop a treatment plan that may include speech therapy, use of prosthetic device, and/or surgical intervention.

Albert Woo, MD explains an innovative treatment for palate repair  »