This study investigates specific articulatory problems and compromised speech intelligibility associated with and without the use of an intraoral prosthesis in 13 surgically treated oropharyngeal cancer patients. Ten patients had tonsil and varying amounts of posterior tongue, tongue base, and soft palate resected. Three other patients had soft palate resected with no involvement of oral tongue or tongue base. Three types of intraoral prostheses were employed. One type was a maxillary reshaping/lowering prosthesis, the second type was a soft palate obturator, and the third type was a combined maxillary reshaping/lowering and soft palate obturator prosthesis. Review of the individual cases in relation to improvements in articulation and conversational understandability revealed mixed success with prosthesis usage in the group of 10 patients with posterior resection. In the group of three patients with soft palate resection, however, two patients benefitted from use of obturators. The results identify the need for some criteria in patient selection for intraoral prosthetic rehabilitation. However, in view of the individuality of each patient case in terms of surgical deficit, patient characteristics, and varied prosthodontic/speech-language pathologist teams, it is impossible to develop prescriptions for prosthodontic construction based on surgical deficit alone.
Currently at Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Key Words: maxillary reshaping/lowering prosthesis, soft palate obturator, oropharyngeal cancer, articulation, intelligibility
Submitted on February 23, 1995
Accepted on April 26, 1996