Transillumination of the occult submucous cleft palate

E. J. Caterson, David M. Tsai, Ryan Cauley, Jayme R. Dowdall, Lauren E. Tracy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Occult submucous cleft palate is a congenital deformity characterized by deficient union of the muscles that normally cross the velum and aid in elevation of the soft palate. Despite this insufficient muscle coverage, occult submucous cleft palate by definition lacks clear external anatomic landmarks. This absence of anatomic signs makes diagnosis of occult submucous cleft less obvious, more dependent on ancillary tests, and potentially missed entirely. Current diagnostic methodologies are limited and often are unrevealing in the presurgical patient; however, a missed diagnosis of occult submucous cleft palate can result in velopharyngeal insufficiency and major functional impairment in patients after surgery on the oropharynx. By accurately and easily diagnosing occult submucous cleft palate, it is possible to defer or modify pharyngeal surgical intervention that may further impair velopharyngeal function in susceptible patients. In this report, we introduce transillumination of the soft palate using a transnasal or transoral flexible endoscope as an inexpensive and simple technique for identification of submucous cleft palate. The use of transillumination of an occult submucous cleft palate is illustrated in a patient case and is compared to other current diagnostic methodologies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2160-2163
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Craniofacial Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Diagnostic method
  • Endoscopy
  • Occult submucous cleft palate
  • Transillumination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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