Objective: To determine if simple screening tests can predict severe oropharyngeal dysphagia in subjects with Parkinson's disease.
Methodology: Forty-five subjects (26 females) of average age 75 (range: 65-94) who were classified as Modified Hoehn and Yahr stages 2 to 5 were enrolled. The presence of oropharyngeal dysphagia was assessed by a symptom questionnaire, 50 ml water swallowing test and videofluroscopic swallowing study.
Results: Six of the subjects had severe oropharyngeal dysphagia in videofluroscopic swallowing study. Subsequent multivariate analysis showed that 3 factors could independently predict severe oropharyngeal dysphagia. These included higher Modified Hoehn and Yahr stage (P = 0.042), low Body mass index (P = 0.014), and increased difficulty in keeping food or drink in the mouth (P = 0.047). The regression model had a positive predictive power of 96% (sensitivity: 83.3%, specificity: 97.4%).
Conclusion: A combination of 3 simple clinical parameters may be useful for screening for severe oropharyngeal dysphagia as shown radiologically in subjects with Parkinson's disease.