We conducted a comprehensive search of 7 databases, including MEDLINE, Embase, and Scopus, from each database's earliest inception through June 9, 2014. Studies reporting diagnostic performance of a bedside examination maneuver compared to a reference gold standard (videofluoroscopic swallow study or flexible endoscopic evaluation of swallowing with sensory testing) were included for analysis. From each study, data were abstracted based on the type of diagnostic method and reference standard study population and inclusion/exclusion characteristics, design, and prediction of aspiration. The search strategy identified 38 articles meeting inclusion criteria. Overall, most bedside examinations lacked sufficient sensitivity to be used for screening purposes across all patient populations examined. Individual studies found dysphonia assessments, abnormal pharyngeal sensation assessments, dual axis accelerometry, and 1 description of water swallow testing to be sensitive tools, but none were reported as consistently sensitive. A preponderance of identified studies was in poststroke adults, limiting the generalizability of results. No bedside screening protocol has been shown to provide adequate predictive value for presence of aspiration. Several individual exam maneuvers demonstrated reasonable sensitivity, but reproducibility and consistency of these protocols was not established. More research is needed to design an optimal protocol for dysphagia detection.
The problem with this paper is the choice of gold standard. Bedside evaluation will not pick up as many abnormalities as will video fluoroscopy, but how many positive video studies are really clinically significant?
Via Hospital Medicine Virtual Journal Club.