SUDDEN DEATH IN THE DYSPHAGIC STROKE PATIENT-A CASE OF AIRWAY OBSTRUCTION CAUSED BY A FOOD BOLUS: A Brief Report1

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Abstract

ABSTRACT

The clinical events leading up to the sudden death of a dysphagic stroke patient with dementia is described. A 63-yr-old man sustained right thalamic and mid-brain infarctions. On the inpatient stroke rehabilitation ward, he exhibited significant impulsivity and dementia, the latter felt to be premorbid. The patient frequently coughed, and modified barium swallow testing showed dysphagia, with aspiration occurring only when consuming greater than teaspoon amounts of liquid. He subsequently died at home while eating a meal. Autopsy showed an intact large cheese ball (bocconcini) occluding the airway. Sudden death in the impulsive stroke patient secondary to airway occlusion by a food bolus has not previously been reported, although such patients seem to be at greater risk. New eating-related interventions are warranted for dysphagic patients who exhibit impulsivity. It is proposed that food particle size be limited to 1 cm2 and that such patients be closely monitored while eating.

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