Predictors of Dysphagia in Critically Injured Patients with Neck Trauma


Purpose: Trauma patients admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) are at heightened risk for oropharyngeal dysphagia and pulmonary aspiration. Timely and appropriate referrals for dysphagia may reduce mortality rates and hospital readmissions. This study sought to identify predictors of dysphagia in a large cohort of patients with multiple traumatic injuries.

Methods: The Trauma Registry Database was queried for admissions at a level 1 trauma center from 2012 to 2016 who underwent instrumental swallowing evaluations. Relevant demographics, injuries, and interventions known to be associated with dysphagia were collected. The Dysphagia Outcome and Severity Scale (DOSS) was utilized to define severity of dysphagia. Regression analyses were performed to identify predictors of dysphagia.

Results: Two hundred and sixty two patients met criteria. Multivariate analyses found injury severity (p b 0.01), tracheostomy (p b 0.05), TBI (p b 0.05), and cervical spinal bracing (p b 0.001) to be predictors of dysphagia development. Furthermore, length of ICU stay (p b 0.01) and cervical spinal bracing (p b 0.01) were associated with a greater severity of dysphagia.

Conclusions: Oropharyngeal dysphagia is a common complication in trauma patients. Our results propose a set of predictors that should be considered when identifying critically injured patients at risk for dysphagia.

Journal of critical care