Swallowing after major surgery of the oral cavity or oropharynx: A prospective and longitudinal assessment of patients treated by microvascular soft tissue reconstruction

Pepijn A. Borggreven, Irma M. Verdonck-De Leeuw*, Rico N. Rinkel, Johannes A. Langendijk, Jan C. Roos, Eric F.L. David, Remco De Bree, C. René Leemans

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background. The aim of this study was to analyze swallowing outcome in advanced oral/oropharyngeal cancer patients treated with microvascular reconstructive surgery and adjuvant radiotherapy. Methods. Eighty patients were included. Patient, tumor, and treatment factors were assessed. Postoperative videofluoroscopic swallowing studies (VFSS) and scintigraphy tests were performed at 6 (n = 54 vs 44) and 12 (n = 32 vs 37) months. Swallowing parameters such as the oropharyngeal swallow efficiency and the Penetration/Aspiration Scale were analyzed. Results. Impaired swallowing status was found at 6 months, which remained stationary at 12 months. Comorbid condition, larger tumors (T3-T4 vs T2), and resections of the base of tongue and soft palate combined (vs defects of other dynamic structures) were associated with most profound swallowing problems (p < .05). Conclusions. Swallowing difficulties are relatively frequent and can to a large extent be predicted. With the knowledge of this study, better counseling and vigilance as to swallowing difficulties may be possible.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)638-647
Number of pages10
JournalHead and Neck
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2007

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