Predicting dysphagia in children undergoing surgery for posterior fossa tumors

Eric A. Goethe, Nisha Gadgil, Katie Stormes, Audrey Wassef, Melissa LoPresti, Sandi Lam*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose: Posterior fossa tumors (PFTs) are the most common type of brain tumor in children. Dysphagia is a known complication of PFT resection in children, but data regarding risk factors and clinical course are sparse. Methods: The records of all children who underwent resection of posterior fossa tumor between April 2007 and May 2017 at our institution were analyzed. Clinical, radiographic, histologic data were gathered. Swallowing function was assessed immediately postoperatively and at 1-year follow-up. Results: A total of 197 patients were included. Forty-three (21.8%) patients developed dysphagia after surgery. Patients who developed dysphagia were younger (4.5 vs. 7.2 years, p < 0.01), were more likely to have brainstem compression (74.4% vs. 57.8%, p < 0.03) or invasion (14.0 vs. 9.7%, p < 0.03), and were more likely to have ependymoma (27.9% vs. 13.6%, p < 0.01) or ATRT (atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumor) (9.3% vs. 3.9%, p < 0.01). Patients with postoperative dysphagia also had a longer length of stay (33.7 vs. 12.7 days, p < 0.01) and were more likely to be discharged to inpatient rehabilitation (25.6% vs. 9.1%, p < 0.01). Ten patients (5.1%) were PEG-dependent by 1-year follow-up. These patients were younger (2.7 vs. 5.6 years, p < 0.01), had a longer length of stay (55.5 vs. 27.4 days, p < 0.01), and were more likely to have ATRT (30.0% vs. 0.0%, p < 0.01). Recovery was not associated with tumor grade or extent of resection. Conclusions: Dysphagia after PFT resection is associated with younger age, aggressive tumor histology, and increased healthcare utilization. While most patients recover, a small percentage are still dependent on enteral feeding at 1-year follow-up. Further research is needed to identify factors associated with persistent deficits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)925-931
Number of pages7
JournalChild's Nervous System
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2020


  • Dysphagia
  • Pediatric
  • Posterior fossa tumor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Clinical Neurology


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