, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 498-503
Date: 12 Feb 2012

Does Removal of Tracheostomy Affect Dysphagia? A Kinematic Analysis

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Tracheostomy tubes are thought to increase the incidence of aspiration and several mechanisms that might cause this have been suggested. Some studies reported alterations in laryngeal elevation during swallowing, which they attributed to an anchoring effect of the tracheostomy tube resulting in dysphagia. The purpose of the present study was to kinematically investigate the effect of tracheostomy on the swallowing process in dysphagic patients. Thirteen patients (7 males, 6 females; mean age = 61.4 years) were prospectively enrolled between August 2008 and December 2009. The inclusion criteria for a patient who had undergone tracheostomy were an ability to tolerate tube plugging for 48 h and the capacity to expectorate without assistance. All patients underwent two videofluoroscopic swallow studies (VFSS), before and after decannulation. We measured 21 time interval variables during swallowing in the pharyngeal phase and the extent of laryngeal elevation. No patient exhibited any change in swallowing function status [Penetration − Aspiration Scale (PAS) (median value = 1)] in the interval between the two VFSS tests. Upon kinematic analysis, no significant difference in any variable pertaining to laryngeal elevation or pharyngeal constriction was found when pre- and post-decannulation VFSS test data were compared (p > 0.05). The present study thus showed that removal of a tracheostomy tube does not affect the kinematics of swallowing. Our results support previous findings that indicated no relationship between tracheostomy tube placement and dysphagia.