Respiratory-swallow coordination and swallowing impairment in head and neck cancer

Theresa Hopkins-Rossabi*, Kent E. Armeson, Steven G. Zecker, Bonnie Martin-Harris

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: The aim of the study was to determine the link between frequency of optimal respiratory-swallow coordination, swallowing impairment, and airway invasion in head and neck cancer (HNC) patients. Method: A cross-sectional study of a heterogeneous group of HNC patients (49), precancer (N = 30) or postcancer treatment (N = 29), participated in a single Modified Barium Swallow Study (MBSS) with synchronized respiratory data. Results: Spearman correlation coefficients revealed significant negative correlations between optimal respiratory-swallow phase pattern and objective measures of swallowing impairment: penetration-aspiration scale max, pharyngeal total, and oral total scores with Spearman correlation coefficients of −0.53 (z.001), −0.50 (P <.001), and −0.43 (P =.002), respectively. Optimal respiratory-swallow pattern was significantly decreased (P =.03) in patients after cancer treatment compared with another patient group before cancer treatment. Conclusion: These findings indicate that as the percentage of optimal respiratory-swallow phase patterns increase, swallowing impairment decreases in the HNC patient population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1398-1408
Number of pages11
JournalHead and Neck
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021


  • dysphagia
  • head and neck cancer
  • lung volume
  • respiratory-swallow phase patterns
  • swallowing impairment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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