Risk Factors for Dysphagia and the Impact on Outcome After Spontaneous Subarachnoid Hemorrhage

NCJ_cover.jpgBy Tobias Keser, Mario Kofler, Mariella Katzmayr, Alois J. Schiefecker, Verena Rass, Bogdan A. Ianosi, Anna Lindner, Maxime Gaasch, Ronny Beer, Paul Rhomberg, Erich Schmutzhard, Bettina Pfausler, Raimund Helbok

First Online: 15 November 2019

Despite the tremendous impact of swallowing disorders on outcome following ischemic stroke, little is known about the incidence of dysphagia after subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) and its contribution to hospital complications, length of intensive care unit stay, and functional outcome.

This is a retrospective analysis of an ongoing prospective cohort study. Swallowing ability was assessed in consecutive non-traumatic SAH patients admitted to our neurological intensive care unit using the Bogenhausen Dysphagia Score (BODS). A BODS > 2 points indicated dysphagia. Functional outcome was assessed 3 months after the SAH using the modified Rankin Scale with a score > 2 defined as poor functional outcome.

Two-hundred and fifty consecutive SAH patients comprising all clinical severity grades with a median age of 57 years (interquartile range 47–67) were eligible for analysis. Dysphagia was diagnosed in 86 patients (34.4%). Factors independently associated with the development of dysphagia were poor clinical grade on admission (Hunt & Hess grades 4–5), SAH-associated parenchymal hematoma, hydrocephalus, detection of an aneurysm, and prolonged mechanical ventilation (> 48 h). Dysphagia was independently associated with a higher rate of pneumonia (OR = 4.32, 95% CI = 2.35–7.93), blood stream infection (OR = 4.3, 95% CI = 2.0–9.4), longer ICU stay [14 (8–21) days versus 29.5 (23–45) days, p < 0.001], and poor functional outcome after 3 months (OR = 3.10, 95% CI = 1.49–6.39).

Dysphagia is a frequent complication of non-traumatic SAH and associated with poor functional outcome, infectious complications, and prolonged stay in the intensive care unit. Early identification of high-risk patients is needed to timely stratify individual patients for dysphagia treatment.

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