The Relationship Between Residue and Aspiration on the Subsequent Swallow: An Application of the Normalized Residue Ratio Scale

Molfenter SM, Steele CM.

Dysphagia. 2013 Mar 5


Postswallow residue is widely considered to be a sign of swallowing impairment and is assumed to pose risk for aspiration on subsequent swallows. We undertook a preliminary retrospective study to investigate the link between postswallow residue and penetration-aspiration on the immediately occurring subsequent clearing swallow (i.e., without introduction of a new bolus). Videofluoroscopy clips for 156 thin-liquid single bolus swallows by patients with neurogenic dysphagia were selected for study because they displayed multiple swallows per bolus. Residue for each subswallow (n = 407) was analyzed using the Normalized Residue Ratio Scale for the valleculae (NRRSv) and piriform sinuses. The association between residue presence at the end of a swallow and penetration-aspiration on the next swallow was examined. Postswallow residue in one or both pharyngeal spaces was significantly associated with impaired swallowing safety on the subsequent clearing swallow for the same bolus. However, when analyzed separately by residue location, only vallecular residue was significantly associated with impaired swallowing safety on the next clearing swallow. The distribution of NRRSv scores by swallowing safety demonstrated an NRRSv cut-point of 0.09, above which there was a 2.07 times greater relative risk of penetration-aspiration. Postswallow vallecular residue, measured using the NRRS, is significantly associated with penetration-aspiration on subsequent clearing swallows. A clinically meaningful cut-point of 0.09 on the NRRSv scale demarcates this risk. Further research with different bolus consistencies is needed.


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