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Swallowing dysfunction in trauma patients with cervical spine fractures treated with halo-vest fixation

Swallowing dysfunction in trauma patients with cervical spine fractures treated with halo-vest fixation

Journal of Trauma 70(1): 46-8; Discussion 48-50

ACKGROUND:: Cervical spine fractures are common in traumatically injured patients. The halo-vest brace is a common treatment used for these fractures. We hypothesize that the use of halo-vest fixation is associated with a high incidence of dysphagia in trauma patients. All trauma patients at our Level I Trauma Center from August 2005 to August 2007 were analyzed retrospectively via the trauma registry (N=3,702). Included were adult patients with cervical spine fractures treated with halo-vests and evaluated formally by speech-language pathologists for dysphagia and aspiration. Patients were categorized into mild, moderate, and severe dysphagia. Of the 3,702 patients, 369 (10%) had cervical spine fractures from blunt trauma and 56 met inclusion criteria. Of these, 19 (34%) had no evidence of swallowing dysfunction and the remaining 37 (66%) had evidence of dysphagia. Thirteen (23%) exhibited symptoms of aspiration. There were no significant differences in age, gender, Injury Severity Score, arrival Revised Trauma Score, or arrival Glasgow Coma Scale score on presentation. Dysphagia is associated with longer intensive care unit stays (p=0.019) and trends toward a longer hospital stay (p=0.083). In trauma patients with halo-vests, increasing severity of dysphagia from mild to moderate is associated with longer ventilator days (p=0.005), intensive care unit days (p=0.001), and hospital length of stay (p=0.015). Patients with cervical fractures treated with halo-vest fixation have a significantly high incidence of dysphagia and aspiration. Dysphagia in trauma patients treated with halo-vests for c-spine fractures is common, associated with worse outcomes, and difficult to predict. Therefore, all of these patients should be formally evaluated for dysphagia.

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Accession: 056049513

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 21217480

DOI: 10.1097/TA.0b013e318203e3b8

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