Recovery from dysphagia symptoms after oral endotracheal intubation in acute respiratory distress syndrome survivors: A 5-year longitudinal study

Martin B. Brodsky, Minxuan Huang, Carl Shanholtz, Pedro A. Mendez-Tellez, Jeffrey B. Palmer, Elizabeth Colantuoni, Dale M. Needham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Rationale: Nearly 60% of patients who are intubated in intensive care units (ICUs) experience dysphagia after extubation, and approximately 50% of them aspirate. Little is known about dysphagia recovery time after patients are discharged from the hospital. Objectives: To determine factors associated with recovery from dysphagia symptoms after hospital discharge for acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) survivors who received oral intubation with mechanical ventilation. Methods: This is a prospective, 5-year longitudinal cohort study involving 13 ICUs at four teaching hospitals in Baltimore, Maryland. The Sydney Swallowing Questionnaire (SSQ), a 17-item visual analog scale (range, 0-1,700), was used to quantify patient-perceived dysphagia symptoms at hospital discharge, and at 3, 6, 12, 24, 36, 48, and 60 months after ARDS. An SSQ score greater than or equal to 200 was used to indicate clinically important dysphagia symptoms at the time of hospital discharge. Recovery was defined as an SSQ score less than 200, with a decrease from hospital discharge greater than or equal to 119, the reliable change index for SSQ score. Fine and Gray proportional subdistribution hazards regression analysis was used to evaluate patient and ICU variables associated with time to recovery accounting for the competing risk of death. Measurements and Main Results: Thirty-seven (32%) of 115 patients had an SSQ score greater than or equal to 200 at hospital discharge; 3 died before recovery. All 34 remaining survivors recovered from dysphagia symptoms by 5-year follow-up, 7 (23%) after 6 months. ICU length of stay was independently associated with time to recovery, with a hazard ratio (95% confidence interval) of 0.96 (0.93-1.00) per day. Conclusions: One-third of orally intubated ARDS survivors have dysphagia symptoms that persist beyond hospital discharge. Patients with a longer ICU length of stay have slower recovery from dysphagia symptoms and should be carefully considered for swallowing assessment to help prevent complications related to dysphagia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)376-383
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of the American Thoracic Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2017


  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • Deglutition
  • Deglutition disorders
  • Intubation
  • Recovery of function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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