Clinical and videofluoroscopic evaluation of feeding and swallowing in infants with oropharyngeal dysphagia

Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2021 Nov:150:110900. doi: 10.1016/j.ijporl.2021.110900. Epub 2021 Aug 26.


Background: Dysphagia impacts infants' health and well-being and may result in aspiration pneumonia.

Objective: This study aimed to evaluate feeding and swallowing functions in infants with dysphagia to determine the possible causes of dysphagia and their relationship with the medical diagnoses. Clinical and videofluoroscopic findings were compared to determine the diagnostic accuracy of clinical evaluation and identify clinical predictors of laryngeal penetration and aspiration.

Methods: This study was conducted on 60 infants in the age range 2-19 months (median seven months) with suspected aspiration and/or feeding problems. All cases were subjected to both clinical and videofluoroscopic evaluation of swallowing.

Results: The two most frequently observed videofluoroscopic findings were aspiration and suck-swallow-breathing incoordination. Infants with structural laryngeal abnormalities were significantly more likely to experience aspiration. A significant association was found between the presence of aspiration and the presence of both recurrent chest infection and gurgly voice combined, which increased the risk of aspiration by 3.57 times. However, the presence of gagging alone and gagging combined with a recurrent chest infection significantly reduced the risk of aspiration. The clinical assessment accuracy presented 56.70%, with 55.60% sensitivity, 58.30% specificity, and a positive predictive value higher than the negative.

Conclusion: The study highlights the importance of complementing clinical evaluation, in infants with dysphagia, with an objective evaluation of swallowing such as videofluoroscopy due to the high proportion of false positives noticed in clinical evaluation and the high prevalence of silent aspiration in infants.

Keywords: Aspiration; Clinical; Feeding disorders; Infant; Swallowing problems; Videofluoroscopic.

MeSH terms

  • Cineradiography
  • Deglutition
  • Deglutition Disorders* / diagnostic imaging
  • Deglutition Disorders* / etiology
  • Fluoroscopy
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Video Recording