Clinical and instrumental swallowing assessments for dysphagia

Record ID 32018011268
Authors' objectives: What is the diagnostic accuracy of clinical evaluation versus instrumental swallowing assessments for patients with suspected dysphagia? What is the clinical utility of clinical evaluation versus instrumental swallowing assessments for patients with suspected dysphagia? What are the evidence-based guidelines regarding the use of clinical and instrumental assessments for suspected dysphagia?
Authors' results and conclusions: What Is the Issue? Dysphagia, or swallowing impairment, is a common complication of many health conditions. To assess patients for dysphagia, speech-language pathologists may use instrumental swallowing assessments or clinical assessments. Instrumental swallowing assessments are more accurate and comprehensive, but they also require more time and resources. To help inform decisions about whether it is appropriate to increase use of clinical assessments and limit the use of instrumental swallowing assessments, it is important to understand current best practices as well as the comparative clinical utility and diagnostic accuracy. What Did We Do? We searched for literature evaluating the clinical utility and diagnostic accuracy of instrumental swallowing assessments versus clinical assessments for patients with suspected dysphagia. We also searched for evidence-based guidelines that provide recommendations about the use of instrumental and clinical assessments for suspected dysphagia. An information specialist searched for peer-reviewed and grey literature sources published between January 1, 2019, and November 30, 2023. What Did We Find? Four diagnostic test accuracy studies compared various clinical evaluations to instrumental swallowing exams. The tests ranged in their sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive values, and negative predictive values. Three of the 4 studies concluded that the clinical assessments they examined could be used to identify dysphagia. One of these 3 studies examined multiple clinical evaluations and noted the varying degrees of accuracy among the tests and indicated which of these is most accurate. The fourth study found that further evidence is needed to determine if a clinical feeding evaluation can predict aspiration. We did not find any studies directly evaluating the clinical utility of instrumental swallowing assessments versus clinical evaluation for patients with suspected dysphagia that met the inclusion criteria for this review. Six evidence-based guidelines made recommendations related to instrumental and clinical swallowing assessments for dysphagia. These recommendations generally indicated that instrumental assessments should be used when resources allow, or that they should take place in addition to clinical swallowing assessments. What Does This Mean? Health care practitioners may wish to conduct an instrumental swallowing assessment, such as a fibreoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing or a videofluoroscopic swallowing study for patients for whom there are sufficient resources to do so. Clinical assessments for dysphagia have the potential to help clinicians diagnose patients with dysphagia without the use of instrumental swallowing assessments, particularly in settings with limited resources. However, this is not the case for all clinical assessments and needs to be determined on a case-by-case basis.
Project Status: Completed
Year Published: 2024
English language abstract: An English language summary is available
Publication Type: Rapid Review
Country: Canada
MeSH Terms
  • Deglutition
  • Deglutition Disorders
  • Symptom Assessment
  • Quality of Life
Organisation Name: Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health
Contact Address: 600-865 Carling Avenue, Ottawa, ON K1S 5S8 Canada. Tel: +1 613 226 2553; Fax: +1 613 226 5392;
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Copyright: <p>Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH)</p>
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