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Arq Bras Cir Dig. 2012 Oct-Dec;25(4):279-82.

Analytic review of dysphagia scales.

[Article in English, Portuguese]

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Departamento de Gastroenterologia, Faculdade de Medicina, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, SP, Brazil.



An efficient instrument for dysphagia measurement, easily reproducible and statistically consistent, should provide consistent data on the outcomes and follow-up of diseases with dysphagia. Existent proposals do not show a global coverage in the evaluation of this symptom.


To analyze the available dysphagia scales determining those that allow a more objective and statistically consistent evaluation, and not only a measurement tool. Also, witch of the them achieve a better quantification of the symptom and useful in the follow-up.


Searching descriptors in the database Pubmed: "dysphagia", "scale", "index", "score", 10 papers were selected published between 1995 and June 2012 with proposals of dysphagia scales.


Most scales do not reach the requirements to be classified as a complete tool in the evaluation of any dysphagia. Many are specific to a single disease and few, which have a global assessment, have no statistical consistency. In oropharyngeal (cervical) dysphagia, the FOIS and ASHA scales are the most often cited. In motor dysphagia (cervical), the Zaninotto and Youssef scale have extremely practical applicability, but both require statistical validation. Zaninotto´s seems to be more accurate by including more variables (dysphagia, chest pain and heartburn). The scales which cover the two forms of dysphagia (ASHA and DHI) are extremely different regarding the goal of their evaluation. The DHI is a scale of recent publication, which examines the two types of dysphagia and has a well-structured statistical validation. Future important step would be testing this new proposal with a more expressive and representative sample, probably enshrining this new assessment tool.


The most frequent scales of dysphagia reported in the last 17 years have different purpose and structure.The FOIS and ASHA scales are often used for evaluation of oropharyngeal (cervical) dysphagia, both focused on nutritional therapy. For the evaluation of motor (low) dysphagia, the scale of Zaninotto and Youssef has practical application, and the DHI seems to represent the most promising tool in the overall assessment of dysphagia.

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