April 16, 2018 – Dysphagia
Anchor lead: Trouble swallowing is common following use of a breathing tube, Elizabeth Tracey reports
Breathing tubes can save lives, and are frequently used in critically ill persons as well as during many surgeries, yet they can leave people with difficulty swallowing, known as dysphagia, when they are removed. Martin Brodsky, a swallowing expert at Johns Hopkins, says his recent study sheds light on the issue.
Brodsky: People will have symptoms of dysphagia, in the ICU people who had breathing tubes down their throat, typically more than 24-48 hours, once that tube is pulled they’ll have at least minor difficulty swallowing and some voice problems. If it’s bad enough it can last years afterward. We just completed a study in fact. Most patients in this five year study resolved their dysphagia within three to six months, but there were certainly those folks who lasted up to five years. :29
Brodsky says the good news is that even those who had dysphagia for prolonged periods ultimately did recover some function. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.