Aspiration is a common problem following stroke, resulting in feeding difficulties and aspiration pneumonia. Despite past studies using clinical assessment and computed tomographic (CT) scans of the head, the correlation of stroke location with aspiration remains unclear. Since brain magnetic resonance imaging is more sensitive than CT for many stroke types, we have correlated MRI lesions with aspiration in patients who have sustained a stroke. We selected patients with acute stroke who underwent brain MRI and a swallowing evaluation. Aspiration was present in 21 of 38 patients (55%). Patients with just small vessel infarcts had a significantly lower occurrence of aspiration (3 of 14, 21%) compared to those with both large-and small-vessel infarcts (15 of 20, 75%, p=0.002). Multivariate analysis of several specific brain areas failed to identify a significant association between stroke location and the occurrence of aspiration. These findings suggest that patients who have experienced stroke should be individually evaluated for swallowing dysfunction regardless of stroke location or size, since even small-vessel strokes can be associated with aspiration in >20% of cases.
Key wordsStroke Magnetic resonance imaging Aspiration Deglutition Deglutition disorders
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