Coordination of Pharyngeal and Laryngeal Swallowing Events During Single Liquid Swallows After Oral Endotracheal Intubation for Patients with Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome

Dysphagia. 2018 Dec;33(6):768-777. doi: 10.1007/s00455-018-9901-z. Epub 2018 Apr 30.


To evaluate timing and duration differences in airway protection and esophageal opening after oral intubation and mechanical ventilation for acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) survivors versus age-matched healthy volunteers. Orally intubated adult (≥ 18 years old) patients receiving mechanical ventilation for ARDS were evaluated for swallowing impairments via a videofluoroscopic swallow study (VFSS) during usual care. Exclusion criteria were tracheostomy, neurological impairment, and head and neck cancer. Previously recruited healthy volunteers (n = 56) served as age-matched controls. All subjects were evaluated using 5-ml thin liquid barium boluses. VFSS recordings were reviewed frame-by-frame for the onsets of 9 pharyngeal and laryngeal events during swallowing. Eleven patients met inclusion criteria, with a median (interquartile range [IQR]) intubation duration of 14 (9, 16) days, and VFSSs completed a median of 5 (4, 13) days post-extubation. After arrival of the bolus in the pharynx, ARDS patients achieved maximum laryngeal closure a median (IQR) of 184 (158, 351) ms later than age-matched, healthy volunteers (p < 0.001) and it took longer to achieve laryngeal closure with a median (IQR) difference of 151 (103, 217) ms (p < 0.001), although there was no significant difference in duration of laryngeal closure. Pharyngoesophageal segment opening was a median (IQR) of - 116 (- 183, 1) ms (p = 0.004) shorter than in age-matched, healthy controls. Evaluation of swallowing physiology after oral endotracheal intubation in ARDS patients demonstrates slowed pharyngeal and laryngeal swallowing timing, suggesting swallow-related muscle weakness. These findings may highlight specific areas for further evaluation and potential therapeutic intervention to reduce post-extubation aspiration.

Keywords: Acute respiratory distress syndrome; Deglutition; Deglutition disorders; Dysphagia; Fluoroscopy; Intubation; Mechanical ventilation.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cineradiography
  • Deglutition / physiology*
  • Deglutition Disorders / diagnostic imaging
  • Deglutition Disorders / etiology
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Transit
  • Humans
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / adverse effects*
  • Larynx / diagnostic imaging
  • Larynx / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pharynx / diagnostic imaging
  • Pharynx / physiopathology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / diagnostic imaging
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / therapy
  • Time Factors