To describe swallowing physiology and functional outcomes at select intervals after definitive radiotherapy for laryngeal carcinoma. We also examined associations among patient, tumor, and treatment characteristics and swallowing outcomes.
The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston.
This study cohort included 40 patients who underwent definitive radiotherapy for laryngeal carcinoma (from February 2001 to June 2004).
Main Outcome Measures
Modified barium swallow (MBS) studies were performed for 32
patients at 3 test intervals following irradiation: less than 6 months, 6 to 11 months, and 12 or more months. We recorded the presence or absence of aspiration (sensate or silent), 5 pharyngeal phase disorders, and 2 structural abnormalities. We also recorded pretreatment dysphagia complaints, feeding tube dependency, T classification, disease site, mucositis grade, and radiotherapy schedule with or without chemotherapy.
Eighty-four percent of patients (27 of 32) referred for MBS studies after undergoing radiotherapy aspirated; 44% (12 of 27) did so silently. Silent aspiration was more prevalent during MBS studies conducted 1 or more years after radiotherapy. Pharyngeal phase disorders were observed more frequently than structural abnormalities (P < .01). Most patients required a feeding tube (78% [31 of 40]); however, 52% of the tubes (16) were eventually removed. We found no significant association between the occurrence of aspiration and disease site, T classification, treatment regimen, or pretreatment variables (P > .05). Pretreatment and posttreatment levels of feeding tube dependency were significantly associated (P = .03). Patient-reported dysphagia before treatment did not predict posttreatment swallowing outcomes (P > .05).
Dysphagia is a common outcome after laryngeal preservation with radiotherapy. Contrary to expectations, few parameters that we measured were significantly associated with swallowing outcomes in our study.