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J Clin Gastroenterol. 1997 Mar;24(2):74-8.

Modified barium swallow does not affect how often PEGs are placed after stroke.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Medical College of Ohio, Toledo 43699, U.S.A.


Dysphagia frequently follows stroke, but often resolves quickly. Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) or other feeding tubes are placed to improve nutrition and hydration, and reduce the risk of aspiration pneumonitis. We evaluated the impact of modified barium swallow in determining PEG placements and the influence of specific swallowing abnormalities on PEG placement. The abnormalities assessed were presence of pharyngeal stasis and/or visualization of posterior pharyngeal transfer problems and aspiration of liquid or solids. A total of 302 patients with stroke were admitted to our hospital between 1989 and 1993, but only those with hemorrhagic or nonhemorrhagic stroke by computed tomographic (CT) scans or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or autopsy were included in our study. Patients with transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), central nervous system tumors, and traumas were excluded. Barium swallow studies were performed on 69 (23%) of patients; 49 (71%) were abnormal, based on aspiration of barium, pharyngeal stasis, or postpharyngeal transfer dysphagia. PEGs were placed in only 18% of those with abnormal studies. Of the patients with normal barium swallow studies, 25% had a PEG placed. Two hundred thirty-three patients underwent no barium swallow studies, but 11 (4.72%) of these had PEG placed. The rate of PEG placement was not related to any one of the abnormalities noted on the modified barium swallow. Rather, patients who received PEG had significant neurological deficits and increased prevalence of aspiration pneumonitis. The decision to insert PEG was made on clinical grounds and not on abnormal barium studies alone.

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