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Swallowing dysfunction after minimally invasive oesophagectomy


Objectives Patients undergoing oesophagectomy frequently experience malnutrition, which in combination with the catabolic effects of surgery can result in loss of muscle mass and function. Safe swallowing requires preservation of muscle mass. Swallowing dysfunction puts postoperative patients at risk for aspiration and pneumonia. Modified Barium Swallow Study (MBSS) enables assessment of postoperative swallowing impairments. The current study assessed incidence and risk factors associated with swallowing dysfunction and restricted diet at discharge in patients after oesophagectomy in a high-volume surgical centre.

Methods Patients with an MBSS after oesophagectomy were identified between March 2015 to April 2020 at a high-volume surgical centre. Swallowing was quantitatively evaluated on MBSS with the Rosenbek Penetration-Aspiration Scale (PAS). Muscle loss was evaluated clinically with preoperative hand grip strength (HGS). Univariable and multivariable logistic and linear regression analyses were performed.

Results 129 patients (87% male; median age 66 years) underwent oesophagectomy with postoperative MBSS. Univariate analysis revealed older age, preoperative feeding tube, lower preoperative HGS and discharge to non-home were associated with aspiration or penetration on MBSS. Age and preoperative feeding tube remained as independent predictors in the multivariable analysis. Both univariate and multivariable analyses revealed increased age and preoperative feeding tube were associated with diet restrictions at discharge.

Conclusions Swallowing dysfunction after oesophagectomy is correlated with increased age and need for preoperative enteral feeding tube placement. Further research is needed to understand the relationship between muscle loss and aspiration with the goal of enabling preoperative physiological optimisation and patient selection.

  • clinical assessment
  • clinical decisions
  • dysphagia
  • gastrointestinal (upper)

Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as online supplemental information.

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