Background: Critically ill trauma patients frequently require prolonged endotracheal intubation and ventilator support. After extubation, swallowing difficulties may exist in ≤50% of patients. We sought to determine whether performing a swallowing evaluation would reduce the incidence of postextubation aspiration and subsequent pneumonia. Design: Randomized, prospective clinical trial of fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES) vs. routine clinical management in patients after prolonged intubation. Methods: Seventy patients who were intubated for >48 hrs were randomized. FEES examinations were performed within 24 ± 2 hrs after extubation. Silent aspiration was defined as the appearance of liquid or puree bolus below the true vocal cords without coughing during a FEES examination. Clinical aspiration was defined as the removal of enteral content from below the vocal cords, usually during endotracheal tube placement. Results: There were five episodes of aspiration and pneumonia in the FEES group (14%, two silent) and two in the clinical group (6%, not significant, Fisher exact test). Patients aged >55 yrs and those with vallecular stasis on FEES examination were at significantly higher risk of postextubation aspiration. All patients with pneumonia had an associated aspiration episode. Conclusions: Patients with prolonged orotracheal intubation are at risk of aspiration after extubation. The addition of a FEES examination did not change the incidence of aspiration or post-extubation pneumonia.
- Fiberoptic endoscope
- Orotracheal intubation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine