Correlating factors in the recommendation of feeding tubes in the nutritional management of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Amyotroph Lateral Scler Frontotemporal Degener. Oct-Nov 2016;17(7-8):515-521. doi: 10.1080/21678421.2016.1213851. Epub 2016 Aug 18.


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is associated with nutritional deficits. Gastrostomy tubes are often inserted in patients with ALS to supplement or replace oral intake. The aim of this study was to better understand the practices of gastrostomy tube insertion in patients with ALS. Pre-collected de-identified data were obtained from the Canadian Neuromuscular Disease Registry (CNDR). Feeding tube status was compared with markers of dysphagia, respiratory compromise, and weight status in both univariate and multivariate analysis by employing odds ratios. Results showed that abnormal ALSFRS-R dysphagia scores were associated with higher rates of feeding tube referrals. The use of non-invasive ventilation also increased the likelihood that a tube was recommended. A higher FVC was found to decrease the likelihood of recommendation. BMI and ALSFRS-R dyspnoea scores were not found to be independently associated. In conclusion, our findings demonstrate that symptoms of dysphagia and respiratory status are associated with higher rates of recommendation for feeding tubes. While not independently significant, individuals with a lower BMI had more feeding tube referrals compared to individuals with a normal or elevated BMI. A similar trend was noted for ALSFRS-R dyspnoea scores. Further research is required to determine if these represent optimal criteria for placement.

Keywords: Nutrition; body mass index (BMI); dysphagia; feeding tubes; forced vital capacity (FVC).

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis* / complications
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis* / epidemiology
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis* / therapy
  • Canada
  • Deglutition Disorders / etiology*
  • Deglutition Disorders / therapy*
  • Enteral Nutrition / methods*
  • Female
  • Gastrostomy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Treatment Outcome