To determine patient characteristics and clinical factors that are predictive of positive radionuclide salivagram results.
Retrospective chart review (spanning 32 months).
Tertiary care children's hospital.
The study included 129 consecutive pediatric patients with suspected chronic aspiration.
All subjects underwent radionuclide salivagrams to evaluate for aspiration.
Main Outcome Measures
The association of 16 patient characteristics and clinical factors (eg, age, sex, diagnoses, study indications, medications, and previous surgical procedures) with salivagram results. Each factor was examined individually (χ2 or Fisher exact test). For those factors that were significantly associated with positive salivagram results, the risk was estimated with the odds ratio (OR). A multivariable logistic regression model was constructed to determine how well significantly associated factors together predicted positive salivagram results.
The mean (SD) patient age was 4.5 (5.4) years. There were 84 boys (65%) and 45 girls (35%). Aspiration was identified in 27 of 129 salivagrams (21%). On univariate analysis, positive salivagram results were significantly associated with chronic respiratory infections and/or pneumonia (OR, 2.6), prescription of antireflux medications (OR, 2.7), developmental delay (OR, 2.8), and reactive airway disease exacerbations (OR, 3.3) (P<.05). None of the other clinical factors were significantly associated with salivagram results. On multivariate analysis, salivagram results were significantly associated with the 4 above-mentioned factors (P = .009). However, these 4 predictive factors were not independent of each other owing to the statistically significant associations among them.
We identified 4 clinical factors that are predictive of aspiration on salivagram. A high level of suspicion for aspiration should be maintained in children with these potential risk factors.