Clinical and demographic data in 75 patients with near-fatal choking episodes

Dysphagia. 1992;7(4):205-8. doi: 10.1007/BF02493471.


The clinical background and circumstances of 75 patients who had survived a near-fatal choking episode, i.e., had undergone a Heimlich maneuver, oropharyngeal suctioning, or intubation, is reported. Sixty had choked on a solid bolus (often of a complex texture like sandwiches and chicken soup). Four patients had choked on mashed banana. In 30 patients neurologic disease (such as cerebrovascular disease, Parkinson disease, or dementia) was present. Choking occurred during breakfast (16 patients), lunch (21), dinner (26), and snacks (12). Twenty-five choked at home, 18 in nursing homes, 14 in hospitals, nine in restaurants, and nine in drinking establishments. Twelve were being fed at the time of choking. Fifty-eight of the individuals had oral, pharyngeal, or esophageal abnormalities on radiographic examination that could explain the choking episode. Fourteen patients who were able to vocalize during the choking episode had probably suffered from esophageal impaction. Our study indicates that elderly individuals and those with neurogenic dysphagia are at risk for choking. Dysphagia diet (semisolids) may actually contribute to the risk in these patients. Young adults may also be at risk during episodes of consumption of alcohol and snacks.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Airway Obstruction / epidemiology*
  • Airway Obstruction / etiology
  • Deglutition Disorders / complications
  • Esophageal Diseases / complications*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pharyngeal Diseases / complications