Objective: This study was conducted to delineate the incidence and outcome of dysphagia among hospitalized patients who were referred for rehabilitation because of brainstem stroke.
Design: We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of 36 patients who were admitted because of brainstem stroke. Information on the patients' clinical features, feeding status, and the results of clinical and videofluoroscopic swallowing examinations were obtained through chart review. Follow-up interviews were conducted via telephone to learn the general medical condition and feeding status of the patients 7-43 mo after hospital discharge.
Results: A total of 81% of the patients had dysphagia at the time of initial clinical swallowing evaluation, which was performed 10-75 days after the onset of stroke. A total of 79% of the dysphagic individuals depended on tube feeding at the initial evaluation; 22% of all individuals could not resume oral intake at discharge. Statistical analyses revealed a significant association between poor outcome and disease involving the medulla, the presence of a wet voice during the initial swallowing test, and a delay or absence of the swallowing reflex. The incidence of aspiration pneumonia was 11%. There was a correlation between the detection of aspiration by modified barium meal video-fluoroscopy and the development of aspiration pneumonia. Follow-up interviews showed that 88% of the 27 patients who were contacted had resumed full oral intake 4 mo after the onset of stroke.
Conclusions: The incidence of dysphagia was relatively high in our study population. The long-term outcome was favorable.