Dysphagia in non-traumatic subarachnoid haemorrhage: a scoping review

Neurosurg Rev. 2020 Aug;43(4):1079-1087. doi: 10.1007/s10143-019-01155-8. Epub 2019 Aug 3.


There is currently limited information regarding dysphagia following non-traumatic subarachnoid haemorrhage (SAH), which impacts upon speech-language pathologists' (SLP) decisions when providing clinical care for this patient cohort. This scoping review aims to summarise the available evidence on the topic and identify gaps in the literature. The scoping review framework as described by Arskey and O'Malley (Soc Res Methodol 8(1):19-32, 2005) was used. Searches were undertaken in six databases. Inclusion criteria included that participants were adults (18+ years), with a primary diagnosis of non-traumatic SAH, and dysphagia occurred as a result of non-traumatic SAH. Data was extracted by the primary author independently and cross-checked by the second author. Data extracted included year of publication, study location, population, aims of the study, study design, method used to identify dysphagia, who completed the assessment, dysphagia incidence, dysphagia type and severity, risk factors, characteristics, and intervention details. Ten studies were included. Dysphagia was diagnosed based on staff reports, screening, clinical swallowing examination, and/or instrumental swallowing assessment with considerable variability identified across studies with regard to incidence (range 0.9-100%). Studies were highly heterogeneous with regard to dysphagia assessment practice, risk factors, characteristics, provision of intervention, and outcomes. The current evidence regarding dysphagia following non-traumatic SAH is insufficient to provide best practice guidelines for assessment and management recommendations. Emerging evidence will inform healthcare professionals managing dysphagia in individuals following non-traumatic SAH. Future research with more rigorous study designs will promote evidence-based clinical care standards for this population.

Keywords: Dysphagia; Scoping review; Subarachnoid haemorrhage.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Deglutition Disorders / etiology*
  • Deglutition Disorders / therapy
  • Humans
  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage / complications*
  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage / therapy