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Expert Q&A

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Willa bifid uvula cause any problems?

Asked byEd, Atlanta, Georgia

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I was told I have a bifid uvula. Will it cause any problems?

Expert Bio Picture

Living Well Expert Dr. Jennifer Shu Pediatrician,
Children's Medical Group

Expert answer

Having a bifid uvula means that the tissue that dangles in the back of the throat between the tonsils has two parts instead of one.

This occurs in about 2 percent of the population and is something that I commonly see in my patients who are healthy and just happen to have a bifid uvula.

For more information about the uvula, I consulted with Dr. Mark Brown, an Austin, Texas, physician who is board certified in Otolaryngology (ENT), Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, and Sleep Medicine.

Dr. Brown reports that the palate forms in the womb by coming together from each side and fusing in the middle, forming a complete roof of the mouth. The uvula is a remnant from the development of the palate.

One can think of a bifid uvula as resulting from a palate that fused all along from front to back but that stopped before the uvula got fully together and remains split in the middle to varying degrees.

In the case of a cleft palate, the sides don't meet up and there is a gap in the roof of the mouth.

The only concern with a bifid uvula is that there are rare occasions when a "submucous" (under the tissue lining) cleft palate occurs, meaning that the midline fusion occurred but did so incompletely. In that situation, if an adenoidectomy (removal of the adenoid) is performed, the palate might not work well in closing off the nose from the mouth during speaking and swallowing.

If a bifid uvula is seen on exam, the palate therefore needs to be felt to make sure it is solid before operating.

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