The VPI Outcomes Prediction Study (VPI-OPS) is an observational study designed to help surgeons and speech-language pathologists select the best surgery for their patients and better customize the care they deliver. Researchers in this study include providers from more than 13 hospitals across the US and Canada who are working together to improve patient outcomes.

Velopharyngeal Insufficiency (VPI)

Velopharyngeal insufficiency (VPI) is a condition that occurs when the structure of the palate doesn’t allow it to completely close against the back of the throat during speech. VPI occurs in up to 40% of children who have had a cleft palate repair and leads to issues with nasal sounding speech and inappropriate air emission from the nose when talking. These symptoms can make it difficult to be understood during conversation, which can impair communication with family and friends.

Treatment for VPI

Treatment for VPI includes surgery. There are many surgery options available but not all are alike – and no one knows for sure which option is best. All surgeries come with side effects, like problems breathing during sleep. And although most patients see big improvements in their speech after surgery, some do not.

Surgeons and speech-language pathologists customize the care they deliver to each patient. Using the following information, they choose the surgery they feel is best for their patient:

  • Age
  • Medical history
  • Prior surgeries
  • Severity of VPI
  • Imaging test results

The VPI Outcomes Prediction Study will compare the effectiveness of existing surgical procedures for VPI. The study will help to establish which procedures are most effective at improving speech. The study will also help determine the risks of each procedure.

The results of this study will directly contribute to improving the health of children with cleft palate by enabling surgeons and speech-language pathologists to select the most effective, least harmful surgical procedure for each child with VPI.

VPI-OPS is supported by an award from the National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Learn more about NIDCR here.

Patient Care During the Study

Participating in the VPI-OPS will not impact the care a patient receives. Patients will continue to be treated by the providers they already know and trust and receive the same high-quality care. Participating in VPI-OPS helps healthcare providers evaluate the care they deliver, so they can improve the care they provide to patients in the future. 

VPI-OPS researchers observe the care patients are already getting for VPI. They work with patients’ surgeons and speech-language pathologists to measure the outcomes of the VPI surgery. This includes collecting a video-recorded sample of speech before surgery and another recording after surgery. The researchers then compare the outcomes of the different types of surgeries to determine which surgery works best and for whom.

For more information about the study, including how to participate, please email the VPI-OPS team at vpiops [at] (vpiops[at]phoenixchildrens[dot]com) or call 602-933-8747.