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Crit Care Med. 2001 Sep;29(9):1710-3.

Postextubation fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing after prolonged endotracheal intubation: a randomized, prospective trial.

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Department of Surgery, Division of Trauma and Critical Care, University of Miami, Miami, FL, USA.



Critically ill trauma patients frequently require prolonged endotracheal intubation and ventilator support. After extubation, swallowing difficulties may exist in < or = 50% of patients. We sought to determine whether performing a swallowing evaluation would reduce the incidence of postextubation aspiration and subsequent pneumonia.


Randomized, prospective clinical trial of fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES) vs. routine clinical management in patients after prolonged intubation.


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.


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.


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 postextubation pneumonia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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