The purpose of the present study was to investigate the incidence of aspiration in previously aspirating patients with tracheotomy after use of a one-way tracheotomy tube speaking valve. Twenty consecutive inpatients from the acute care setting of a large urban tertiary care teaching hospital were included. All subjects had objective documentation of aspiration by a fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing prior to placement of a one-way tracheotomy speaking valve, from 2 to 7 days of valve use with intelligible speech production, and no surgery to the upper aerodigestive tract except tracheotomy. Results indicated that incidence of aspiration was not affected by use of a one-way tracheotomy speaking valve. These results are in agreement with previous observations that subjects either aspirated or swallowed successfully regardless of tracheotomy tube occlusion status. Also, no significant differences were found between aspiration status and time since tracheotomy, time off ventilator, or duration of valve use. It was concluded that use of a one-way speaking valve provided mostly nondeglutitive benefits and should not be considered to promote successful swallowing for patients with tracheotomy in the acute care setting.
Key words: Aspiration — Silent aspiration — Tracheotomy — Tracheotomy tube — Speaking valve — Fiberoptic endoscope — Dysphagia — Deglutition — Deglutition disorders.