Prevalence and Severity of Dysphagia Using Videofluoroscopic Swallowing Study in Patients with Aspiration Pneumonia

Lung. 2021 Feb;199(1):55-61. doi: 10.1007/s00408-020-00413-7. Epub 2021 Jan 17.


Introduction: The purpose of this study was to identify the prevalence and severity of dysphagia in patients diagnosed with aspiration pneumonia, with and without neurologic disorders.

Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of inpatients with aspiration pneumonia who underwent a videofluoroscopic swallowing study (VFSS) for evaluation of dysphagia. Patients were divided into two groups based on the presence or absence of neurologic disorders. The prevalence and severity of aspiration and pharyngeal residue due to dysphagia were assessed using the penetration-aspiration scale (PAS) and pharyngeal residue grade (PRG).

Results: A total of 784 patients were enrolled; of these, 58.7% were males and the mean age was 76.12 ± 6.69. Penetration-aspiration-related dysphagia (PAS scores 3-8) was seen in 56.5% of all subjects, and 32.5% showed silent aspiration (PAS 8). Pharyngeal residue-related dysphagia (PRG scores 2-3) was seen in 65.2% of all patients, and the PAS and PRG were positively correlated. On dividing the subjects into two groups based on the presence of neurologic disorders, there was no significant difference in prevalence of the dysphagia between groups (PAS: p = 0.641; PRG: p = 0.872) with the proportion of silent aspiration (p = 0.720).

Conclusion: In patients hospitalized for aspiration pneumonia, there was a high prevalence of dysphagia. There were no differences in the prevalence and severity of dysphagia in patients with aspiration pneumonia based on the presence or absence of a neurologic disorder. Therefore, diagnostic evaluation of dysphagia is necessary regardless of the presence of neurologic disorders.

Keywords: Aspiration; Dysphagia; Neurologic disorder; Pneumonia; Videofluoroscopic swallow study.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Deglutition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Deglutition Disorders / etiology*
  • Female
  • Fluoroscopy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pneumonia, Aspiration / complications*
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Video Recording*