Does PEG use cause dysphagia in head and neck cancer patients?

Langmore S; Krisciunas GP; Miloro KV; Evans SR; Cheng DM

Dysphagia;27(2):251-9, 2012 Jun.

Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) use is common in patients who undergo radiotherapy (RT) for head and neck cancer to maintain weight and nutrition during treatment. However, the true effect of PEG use on weight maintenance and its potential impact on long-term dysphagia outcomes have not been adequately studied. This retrospective study looked at swallowing-related outcomes among patients who received prophylactic PEG vs. those who did not, and among patients who maintained oral diets vs. partial oral diets vs. those who were nil per os (NPO). Outcomes were assessed at the end of RT and at 3, 6, and 12 months post RT. A comprehensive review of patients’ medical charts for a 6-year period yielded 59 subjects with complete data. Results showed no difference in long-term percent weight change between the prophylactic PEG patients vs. all others, or between patients who, during RT, had oral diets vs. partial oral diets vs. NPO. However, those who did not receive prophylactic PEGs and those who maintained an oral or a partial oral diet during RT had significantly better diet outcomes at all times post RT. Dependence on a PEG may lead to adverse swallowing ability in post-irradiated head and neck cancer patients possibly due to decreased use of the swallowing musculature.



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