Prevalence, Characteristics, and Management of Swallowing Disorders following Cerebellopontine Angle Surgery

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Abstract

Objective.

To describe swallowing disorders encountered after cerebellopontine angle surgery and to explore variables associated with increased incidence of postoperative dysphagia.

Study Design.

Case series with chart review.

Setting.

Single academic medical institution.

Subjects and Methods.

Chart review of 181 consecutive patients undergoing surgical excision of cerebellopontine angle pathology from January 2008 to December 2010 at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. Presence and characteristics of dysphagia were determined by review of speech pathologist reports. Other clinical variables were extracted from the electronic medical record, and statistical analyses were applied to determine factors associated with postoperative dysphagia.

Results.

Immediate postoperative dysphagia was identified in 57 of 181 patients (31%). Oral, oropharyngeal, and pharyngeal deficits accounted for 51%, 37%, and 12% of dysphagic symptoms, respectively. Facial nerve weakness in the immediate postoperative period was noted in 91% of dysphagic subjects compared with 43% of those without. Mean House-Brackmann score for dysphagic individuals was 4 compared with 2 in the nondysphagic group. Diet alterations were required for 65% of dysphagic individuals, and an additional 9% required tube feeding. Common findings during videofluoroscopic swallowing studies were pharyngeal residue, reduced pharyngeal constriction, and anterior bolus loss. Abnormal penetration-aspiration scores (>3) were found in 59% of those undergoing videofluoroscopic swallow studies.

Conclusions.

Oral and pharyngeal swallowing deficits are commonly encountered after cerebellopontine angle surgery. Consultation with the speech-language pathologist appears most critical for any individuals demonstrating postoperative cranial nerve dysfunction, particularly for those with evidence of facial nerve weakness. Early consultation may help to manage short- and long-term functional difficulties.

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