Prevention of pneumonia in elderly stroke patients by systematic diagnosis and treatment of dysphagia: an evidence-based comprehensive analysis of the literature

Dysphagia. Fall 2001;16(4):279-95. doi: 10.1007/s00455-001-0087-3.


We conducted a systematic literature review and analysis of programs for evaluating swallowing in order to prevent aspiration pneumonia. This article derives from an evidence report on diagnosis and treatment of swallowing disorders (dysphagia) in acute-car stroke patients prepared by us as an Evidence-based Practice Center (EPC) under contract to the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Available evidence on the diagnosis and treatment of dysphagia for preventing pneumonia is limited. We found reported pneumonia rates in one historical controlled study of a program using bedside exams (BSE) for acute stroke patients; one uncontrolled case series study of acute stroke patient-reporting of swallowing difficulty; one controlled case series study of videofluoroscopic study of swallowing (VFSS) for acute stroke patients; and one historical controlled study of fiberoptic endoscopic examination of swallowing (FEES) for patients referred for swallowing evaluation in rehabilitation centers. Comparing these results with historical controls indicates that implementation of dysphagia programs is accompanied by substantial reductions in pneumonia rates. While all these methods appeared effective, the small sizes of available studies did not allow determination of the relative efficacy of BSE, VFSS, or FEES.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Deglutition Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Deglutition Disorders / etiology
  • Deglutition Disorders / therapy*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • Pneumonia, Aspiration / prevention & control*
  • Stroke / complications*