To evaluate timing and duration differences in airway protection and esophageal opening after oral intubation and mechanical ventilation for acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) survivors versus age-matched healthy volunteers. Orally intubated adult (≥ 18 years old) patients receiving mechanical ventilation for ARDS were evaluated for swallowing impairments via a videofluoroscopic swallow study (VFSS) during usual care. Exclusion criteria were tracheostomy, neurological impairment, and head and neck cancer. Previously recruited healthy volunteers (n = 56) served as age-matched controls. All subjects were evaluated using 5-ml thin liquid barium boluses. VFSS recordings were reviewed frame-by-frame for the onsets of 9 pharyngeal and laryngeal events during swallowing. Eleven patients met inclusion criteria, with a median (interquartile range [IQR]) intubation duration of 14 (9, 16) days, and VFSSs completed a median of 5 (4, 13) days post-extubation. After arrival of the bolus in the pharynx, ARDS patients achieved maximum laryngeal closure a median (IQR) of 184 (158, 351) ms later than age-matched, healthy volunteers (p < 0.001) and it took longer to achieve laryngeal closure with a median (IQR) difference of 151 (103, 217) ms (p < 0.001), although there was no significant difference in duration of laryngeal closure. Pharyngoesophageal segment opening was a median (IQR) of − 116 (− 183, 1) ms (p = 0.004) shorter than in age-matched, healthy controls. Evaluation of swallowing physiology after oral endotracheal intubation in ARDS patients demonstrates slowed pharyngeal and laryngeal swallowing timing, suggesting swallow-related muscle weakness. These findings may highlight specific areas for further evaluation and potential therapeutic intervention to reduce post-extubation aspiration.
- Acute respiratory distress syndrome
- Deglutition disorders
- Mechanical ventilation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Speech and Hearing