Post-Laryngectomy: It’s Hard to Swallow
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The prevalence of swallowing disorders (dysphagia) following a total laryngectomy remains unknown, with estimates varying from 17 to 70%. The primary aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence and nature of self-reported dysphagia following a total laryngectomy across New South Wales (NSW), Australia. A secondary aim was to document the effect of dysphagia on the respondents’ social activities and participation. A questionnaire battery, with a prepaid envelope for return, was sent to all laryngectomy members (n = 197) of the Laryngectomee Association of NSW. One hundred twenty questionnaires (61%) were completed and returned. Dysphagia was self-reported by 71.8% of the cohort. In this cohort with dysphagia, the most commonly reported features included an increased time required to swallow, a need for fluids to wash down a bolus, and avoidance of certain food consistencies. Severe distress was reportedly associated with dysphagia for 39.7% of these respondents and prevented 57% of them from participating in social activities, such as eating at friends’ houses and/or at restaurants. The prevalence of self-reported dysphagia following total laryngectomy in this Australian study was 72%. Dysphagia can result in laryngectomees making significant changes to their diets and it has a marked impact on their activities and social participation.
KeywordsTotal laryngectomy Dysphagia prevalence Deglutition Deglutition disorders
This paper is part of a wider research study that is generously funded through the Laryngectomee Association of NSW as part of Julia Maclean’s PhD studies at La Trobe University, Melbourne.
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