The significance of accumulated oropharyngeal secretions and swallowing frequency in predicting aspiration.

Dysphagia. 1996 Spring;11(2):99-103.

This study retrospectively investigated the value of both endoscopically visible oropharyngeal secretions in the hypopharynx and swallowing frequency in the prediction of aspiration of food and liquid. Fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES) was performed on a total of 69 individuals that included hospitalized elderly, nonhospitalized elderly, and young normal subjects. A four-level rating scale for determining the severity of accumulated oropharyngeal secretions was developed and employed to rate subjects prior to the presentation of food or liquid during the FEES. Spontaneous dry swallows were also counted during the observation period of the FEES. It was found that the accumulation of endoscopically visible oropharyngeal secretions located within the laryngeal vestibule was highly predictive of aspiration of food or liquid. There were significantly fewer spontaneous swallows in hospitalized subjects when compared with nonhospitalized subjects. There was also a significant decrease in the frequency of spontaneous swallows in aspirating hospitalized subjects when compared with nonaspirating hospitalized subjects. Results are discussed in terms of integrating this information with clinical bedside examination techniques.

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