Study Design Review. Objective Postoperative oropharyngeal dysphagia is one of the most common complications following anterior cervical spine surgery (ACSS). We review and summarize recent literature in order to provide a general overview of clinical signs and symptoms, assessment, incidence and natural history, pathophysiology, risk factors, treatment, prevention, and topics for future research. Methods A search of English literature regarding dysphagia following anterior cervical spine surgery was conducted using PubMed and Google Scholar. The search was focused on articles published since the last review on this topic was published in 2005. Results Patients who develop dysphagia after ACSS show significant alterations in swallowing biomechanics. Patient history, physical examination, X-ray, direct or indirect laryngoscopy, and videoradiographic swallow evaluation are considered the primary modalities for evaluating oropharyngeal dysphagia. There is no universally accepted objective instrument for assessing dysphagia after ACSS, but the most widely used instrument is the Bazaz Dysphagia Score. Because dysphagia is a subjective sensation, patient-reported instruments appear to be more clinically relevant and more effective in identifying dysfunction. The causes of oropharyngeal dysphagia after ACSS are multifactorial, involving neuronal, muscular, and mucosal structures. The condition is usually transient, most often beginning in the immediate postoperative period but sometimes beginning more than 1 month after surgery. The incidence of dysphagia within one week after ACSS varies from 1 to 79% in the literature. This wide variance can be attributed to variations in surgical techniques, extent of surgery, and size of the implant used, as well as variations in definitions and measurements of dysphagia, time intervals of postoperative evaluations, and relatively small sample sizes used in published studies. The factors most commonly associated with an increased risk of oropharyngeal dysphagia after ACSS are: more levels operated, female gender, increased operative time, and older age (usually >60 years). Dysphagic patients can learn compensatory strategies for the safe and effective passage of bolus material. Certain intraoperative and postoperative techniques may decrease the incidence and/or severity of oropharyngeal dysphagia after ACSS. Conclusions Large, prospective, randomized studies are required to confirm the incidence, prevalence, etiology, mechanisms, long-term natural history, and risk factors for the development of dysphagia after ACSS, as well as to identify prevention measures. Also needed is a universal outcome measurement that is specific, reliable and valid, would include global, functional, psychosocial, and physical domains, and would facilitate comparisons among studies. Results of these studies can lead to improvements in surgical techniques and/or perioperative management, and may reduce the incidence of dysphagia after ACSS.
Healthy Development Theme, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Parkville, 3052, Melbourne, Australia. firstname.lastname@example.org
Dysarthria and dysphagia are known complications following posterior fossa tumour (PFT) surgery. Outcome studies for these disorders, however, have focused on a select sub-group of children with mutism. Little is known regarding the incidence or features of these impairments in a consecutively admitted sample of children with PFT. This study describes the incidence and features of mutism, dysarthria and dysphagia during the acute post-surgical phase in a consecutive sample of children with PFT, unselected for the presence of mutism.
A retrospective medical chart review of children aged 2 to 18 years consecutively admitted with PFT between January 2003 and January 2008 was conducted.
Twenty-seven children with PFT were identified. Post-surgical mutism, dysarthria and dysphagia were recorded in 9/27 (33%), 8/27 (30%) and 9/27 (33%) cases, respectively. Dysarthria most commonly involved deficits in articulation; however, impairments in respiration, phonation and prosody were also reported. Dysphagia involved all stages of swallowing (i.e., pre-oral anticipatory, oral preparatory, oral and pharyngeal). Eighty-nine percent of children (8/9) presented with dysphagia at hospital discharge.
The incidence of acute presentation of mutism, dysarthria and dysphagia post-surgery was relatively high, affecting around one in three cases. This incidence rate, considered together with the fact that over half of all cases had co-morbid communication or swallowing impairments, suggests that health professionals should be aware of the likelihood of dysarthria and dysphagia presentation in the acute period and consider speech pathology referral where necessary.
Department of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Jeanne de Flandre Hospital, University Hospital of Lille, France. p-fayoux@chru-lille
To report the surgical treatment of severe swallowing disorders associated with skull base surgery resulting in unilateral pharyngolaryngeal paralysis in pediatric patients.
Retrospective case review.
Tertiary referral center for pediatric otolaryngology.
Five infants undergoing swallowing rehabilitation surgery for severe dysphagia and aspiration resulting from skull base or brainstem surgery.
A hypopharyngeal pharyngoplasty, consisting of the partial resection of the inferior constrictor and cricopharyngeal muscles, was performed for the treatment of severe swallowing disorders. A thyroplasty was also performed if clinically significant glottic incompetence was present.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:
Functional outcomes after surgery were evaluated with a videoendoscopic swallowing study and videofluoroscopy. Postoperative clinical evaluation included respiratory, swallowing, and nutritional outcomes.
A hypopharyngeal pharyngoplasty was performed following a mean period of 6 weeks (range, 1-10 weeks) after skull base surgery. In 3 patients a thyroplasty and a temporary tracheotomy were performed. Oral feeding was reintroduced after a mean period of 6 days (range, 4-20 days). Complete oral feeding autonomy was obtained after 13 days (range, 7-25 days). Postoperative swallowing assessment revealed the disappearance of pharyngeal stasis and aspiration in all patients. Three infants died because of tumor recurrence. Neither dysphagia or bronchopulmonary infections were observed after a mean follow-up period of 33 months (range, 6-61 months).
Pharyngolaryngeal paralysis represents a severe consequence of skull base and brainstem surgery. This condition leads to high morbidity, particularly in the pediatric population. The hypopharyngeal pharyngoplasty, with a possible thyroplasty, may be considered to treat patients with severe pharyngolaryngeal paralysis after skull base or brainstem surgery.
Division of Neurological Surgery, Department of Neurosurgery Research, Barrow Neurological Institute, St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, Phoenix, Arizona, USA.
To evaluate risk factors for the development of dysphagia after anterior cervical surgery.
The records of 249 patients who underwent anterior cervical surgery were reviewed. The presence and severity of dysphagia were assessed with the Dysphagia Disability Index 6 weeks and 3, 6, and 12 months after surgery. Age; sex; ethnicity; cigarette smoking; previous cervical surgeries; reoperation for same pathology; type of procedure, incision, and instrumentation; number and levels involved; side of procedure, length of surgery; and use of postoperative bracing were analyzed.
During the first 6 months after surgery, 27 (10.8%) patients developed dysphagia. From these patients the presence of dysphagia at 6 weeks and at 3 and 6 months was 88.8%, 29.6%, and 7.4%, respectively. By 12 months, dysphagia had resolved in all cases. The mean age of patients with dysphagia was 55 years (SD 12.98) and 50 years (SD 12.07) in patients without dysphagia (P = 0.05). Dysphagic patients had an average of 2.2 (SD 1.15) levels operated compared with 1.84 (SD 0.950) in nondysphagic patients (P = 0.05). Patients who developed dysphagia were most often treated at C4-5 (67%) and C5-6 (81%: P < 0.001). Although mean operative time was slightly longer in patients with dysphagia (186 minutes) compared with those without (169 minutes), the difference was not significant.
In our patients, the incidence of dysphagia was low, and it had completely resolved at 12 months in all cases. Risk factors for dysphagia were multilevel procedures, involvement of C4-5 and C5-6, and age.