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Quantitative Risk Factor Analysis of Postoperative Dysphagia After Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF) Using the Eating Assessment Tool-10 (EAT-10)

Yew, Andrew Y., MD; Nguyen, Matthew T., BS; Hsu, Wellington K., MD; Patel, Alpesh A., MD

doi: 10.1097/BRS.0000000000002770

Study Design. A retrospective case series.

Objective. The aim of this study was to utilize the Eating Assessment Tool-10 (EAT-10) to quantitatively analyze risk factors contributing to dysphagia after anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF).

Summary of Background Data. ACDF is one of the most common procedures performed in the United States, with postoperative dysphagia rates ranging from 2% to 60%. The EAT-10 is a self-administered, symptom-specific 10-item clinical instrument to document dysphagia symptom severity and has demonstrated excellent internal consistency, test-retest reliability, and criterion-based validity.

Methods. This study utilized a retrospective chart review of 163 patients from July 2013 to October 2017 who underwent ACDF at a single institution and prospectively completed EAT-10 surveys pre- and postoperatively. EAT-10 scores were collected preoperatively and at postoperative day 1, day 14, 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, and 12 months. Preselected risk factors were abstracted from the patients’ chart. Univariate analyses were performed to identify candidate variables that correlated with abnormal EAT-10 scores at each time point. Multivariate logistic regression was then utilized to identify risk factors that were independently correlated with abnormal EAT-10 scores at each time point.

Results. Female gender, younger patients, and increased operating room (OR) time was associated with increased rates of dysphagia in the early postoperative period. History of obstructive sleep apnea, history of asthma, increased American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) score, and a larger number of spinal levels included in the surgery were correlated with increased dysphagia in the later postoperative periods.

Conclusion. Dysphagia is common following ACDF. Factors associated with longer-term dysphagia seem to be more associated with pre-existing medical comorbidities. Understanding risk factors that correlate with increased rates of dysphagia has the potential to improve preoperative patient counseling and changes in operative management.

Level of Evidence: 4

Department of Orthopaedics, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Alpesh A. Patel, MD, 259 East Erie Street, 13th Floor, Chicago, IL 60611; E-mail:

Received 10 April, 2018

Accepted 6 June, 2018

The manuscript submitted does not contain information about medical device(s)/drug(s).

No funds were received in support of this work.

Relevant financial activities outside the submitted work: grants.

Copyright © 2018 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.