Hearing sensitivity in adults with a unilateral cleft lip and palate after two-stage palatoplasty

I F P M Kappen, J B S Schreinemakers, K P Q Oomen, D Bittermann, M Kon, C C Breugem, A B Mink van der Molen
International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology 2017, 94: 76-81

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate long-term hearing and middle ear status in patients treated for a unilateral complete cleft lip and palate (UCLP) by two-stage palatoplasty.

METHODS: Forty-nine UCLP patients aged 17 years and older were included in this retrospective study. Patients were invited for a multidisciplinary long-term follow-up of their treatment at a tertiary center for craniofacial surgery in the Netherlands. ENT assessment included tympanometry and pure-tone audiometry. Medical files were searched for medical and surgical history.

RESULTS: In total, 19.4% of the patients had significant long-term hearing loss (PTA > 20 dB), comprising conductive hearing loss in 21.5% of the patients. In the majority (70%), this hearing loss was more pronounced at higher frequencies. In 25% the high fletcher index showed hearing thresholds above 20 dB. Ventilation tubes were placed at least once in 78.7% of the patients. The frequency of tube insertion was positively correlated with the incidence of reduced tympanic compliance (tympanogram type B) and the need for a pharyngoplasty.

CONCLUSION: The present study reports long-term hearing outcomes in UCLP patients with hard palate closure at 3 years of age. Persistent hearing loss was observed in 19.4% of our patients (PTA > 20 dB), mainly at the higher frequencies. Ventilation tube placement was associated with reduced tympanic compliance and higher risk on hearing loss (PTA air conduction). Our high incidence of velopharyngeal incompetence during early childhood, which is likely associated with Eustachian tube dysfunction, might have contributed to these results.

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