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Concept: Aspiration pneumonia


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Aspiration pneumonia is one of the common presentations of community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) and healthcare-associated pneumonia (HCAP). However, its significance has not yet been fully evaluated due to the difficulties associated with diagnosis of this condition. This study aimed to evaluate the impact of objectively-defined aspiration pneumonia on the patients' prognosis with CAP and HCAP. METHODS: This is a multicenter retrospective cohort study consisting of 417 CAP and 220 HCAP patients. We defined aspiration pneumonia as: having both risk factors for aspiration (dysphagia due to a neurological disorder, or disturbance of consciousness) and evidence of gravity-dependent opacity on chest CT. The prognostic factors for 30-day mortality were analyzed. RESULTS: One hundred and sixteen (18%) patients met the definition of aspiration pneumonia, 72 (11%) patients had risks for aspiration alone, 129 (20%) patients had CT findings consistent with aspiration alone, and 320 (50%) patients had neither. Patients diagnosed with aspiration pneumonia had a significantly worse survival than those with risk factors alone (p=0.001), CT findings of aspiration alone (p=0.009), and neither (p<0.001). A multivariate analysis indicated that aspiration pneumonia was independently associated with increased 30-day mortality (adjusted hazard ratio 5.690, p<0.001) after adjusting for other variables, including the category of pneumonia, performance status, the severity score (CURB-65), and treatment failure due to resistant pathogens. CONCLUSIONS: Aspiration pneumonia may be a significant predictor of mortality among CAP and HCAP patients. Therefore, the concept of aspiration pneumonia should be considered in the guidelines for these types of pneumonia.

Concepts: Cohort study, Epidemiology, Pneumonia, Risk, Relative risk, Aspiration pneumonia, Community-acquired pneumonia, Healthcare-associated pneumonia


BACKGROUND: Aspiration pneumonia is a common syndrome, although less well characterized than other pneumonia syndromes. We describe a large population of patients with aspiration pneumonia. METHODS: In this retrospective population study, we queried the electronic medical records at a tertiary-care, university-affiliated hospital from 1996 to 2006. Patients were initially identified by International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision code 507.x; subsequent physician chart review excluded patients with aspiration pneumonitis and those without a confirmatory radiograph. Patients with community-acquired aspiration pneumonia were compared to a contemporaneous population of community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) patients. We compared CURB-65 (a clinical prediction rule based on Confusion, Uremia, Respiratory rate, Blood Pressure, and age)-predicted mortality with actual 30-day mortality. RESULTS: We identified 628 patients with aspiration pneumonia, of which 510 were community-acquired. Median age was 77 years, with 30-day mortality of 21%. Compared to CAP patients, patients with community-acquired aspiration pneumonia had more frequent inpatient admission (99% vs 58%) and intensive care unit admission (38% vs 14%), higher Charlson comorbidity index (3 vs 1), and higher prevalence of do not resuscitate/intubate orders (24% vs 11%). CURB-65 predicted mortality poorly in aspiration pneumonia patients (area under the curve, 0.66). CONCLUSIONS: Patients with community-acquired aspiration pneumonia are older, have more comorbidities, and demonstrate higher mortality than CAP patients, even after adjustment for age and comorbidities. CURB-65 poorly predicts mortality in this population. Journal of Hospital Medicine 2012; © 2012 Society of Hospital Medicine.

Concepts: Medicine, Disease, Pneumonia, Comorbidity, Aspiration pneumonia, Clinical prediction rule, CURB-65, Community-acquired pneumonia


Despite the development of strong antibiotics, the pneumonia death is increasing all over the world in these decades. Among the people who died of pneumonia, the majority were 65 years old or over. Although pneumonia is recently categorized into several entities, aspiration pneumonia is included all entities. Therefore, targeting dysphagia and aspiration to treat pneumonia is a promising strategy and anti-aspiration drugs will be a part of pneumonia treatment. The swallowing reflex in elderly people was temperature-sensitive and the improvement of swallowing reflex by temperature stimuli could be mediated by the thermosensing TRP channels at pharynx. The administration of capsaicin as an agonist stimulus of TRPV1, a warm temperature receptor, decreased the delay in swallowing reflex. Red wine polyphenols improved swallowing reflex by enhancing TRPV1 response. Food with menthol, agonist of TRPM8 which is a cold temperature receptor, also decreased the delay in swallowing reflex. Olfactory stimulation such as black pepper was useful to improve the swallowing reflex for people with low ADL levels or with decreased consciousness. Thus, recent advancement of geriatrics found several anti-aspiration drugs such as thermosensing TRP channel agonists, black pepper odor, amantadine, cilostazol, theophylline and angiotensin-converting enzymes inhibitors. Thermosensing TRP channel agonists include capsaicin, capsiate, menthol, and red wine polyphenols. Controls of swallowing are mediated by various stages of neural system from peripheral sensory nerves to the entire cerebral cortex. Each anti-aspiration drug acts on various sites of neural axis of swallowing reflex. The combination of various anti-aspiration drugs may improve dysphagia and prevent aspiration pneumonia.

Concepts: Nervous system, Pharmacology, Pneumonia, Cerebral cortex, Old age, Aspiration pneumonia, Sensory receptor, Dysphagia


BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Enteral nutrition using feeding devices such as nasogastric (NG) tube or percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) is an effective feeding method subject that may give rise to complications. We have studied the relationship between enteral nutrition feeding devices in patients admitted to the Internal Medicine Departments and the development of pulmonary complications (bronchial aspiration and aspiration pneumonia). PATIENTS AND METHODS: All of the patients discharge between 2005 and 2009 from the Internal Medicine (IM) Departments of the public hospitals of the National Health System in Spain were analyzed. The data of patients with bronchial aspiration or aspiration pneumonia who also were carriers of NG tubes or PEG, were obtained from the Minimum Basic Data Set (MBDS). RESULTS: From a total of 2,767,259 discharges, 26,066 (0.92%) patients with nasogastric tube (NG tube) or percutaneous gastrostomy (PEG) were identified. A total of 21.5% of patients with NG tube and 25.9% of patients with PEG had coding for a bronchopulmonary aspiration on their discharge report versus 1.2% of patients without an enteral feeding tube. In the multivariate analysis, the likelihood of suffering bronchoaspiration was 9 times greater in patients with SNG (OR: 9.1; 95% CI: 8.7-9.4) and 15 greater in subjects with PEG (OR: 15.2; 95% CI: 14.5-15.9) than in subjects without SNG or PEG. Mean stay (9.2 and 12.7 more days), diagnostic complexity and costs were much higher in patients with SNG or PEG compared to patients in hospital who did not require these devices. CONCLUSIONS: An association was found between SNG and PEG for enteral feeding and pulmonary complications. Mean stay, diagnostic complexity and cost per admission of these patients was higher in patients who did not require enteral nutrition.

Concepts: Pulmonology, Pneumonia, Physician, Feeding tube, Trigraph, Aspiration pneumonia, Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy, Enteral feeding


Oropharyngeal dysphagia and esophageal motility disorders were found to be the most important causes of aspiration pneumonia in patients with myotonic dystrophy. The purpose of this report was to evaluate clinical characteristics of the oral motor movements and swallowing of individuals with myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1) using a standardized clinical protocol and surface electromyography (sEMG). Participants were 40 individuals divided in two groups: G1 composed of 20 adults with DM1 and G2 composed of 20 healthy volunteers paired by age and gender to the individuals in G1. Statistical analysis included one-way ANOVA with two factors for within- and between-group comparisons and Bonferroni correction for multiple comparisons. Patients with DM1 presented deficits in posture, position, and mobility of the oral motor structures, as well as compromised mastication and deglutition. The sEMG data indicated that these patients had longer muscle activations during swallowing events. The longer duration of sEMG in the group of patients with DM1 is possibly related to myotonia and/or incoordination of the muscles involved in the swallowing process or could reflect a physiological adaptation for safe swallowing.

Concepts: Myotonic dystrophy, Multiple comparisons, Analysis of variance, Aspiration pneumonia, Achalasia, Dysphagia, Swallowing, Oropharyngeal dysphagia


Limited information is available regarding use of the Frazier free water protocol (FWP) with hospitalized patients who have dysphagia and have survived a critical illness with compromised pulmonary status. This pilot study used a two-group nonequivalent comparison group design to evaluate the FWP in 15 adults admitted to a respiratory care unit (RCU) with dysphagia concerns. Inclusion criteria included recommendation for a modified diet with thickened liquids by a dysphagia therapist and ability to follow the specific free water guidelines. The 15 control participants were chosen from a retrospective chart review of consecutive RCU admissions that met the same inclusion criteria. The intervention group for whom the free water guidelines were implemented did not differ significantly from the control group in rate of development of aspiration pneumonia, χ²(30) = .01, p = 1.00.

Concepts: Controlling for a variable, Scientific control, Pneumonia, Retrospective, Sociology, Aspiration pneumonia, Dysphagia, Compromise


Background The role of supine positioning after acute stroke in improving cerebral blood flow and the countervailing risk of aspiration pneumonia have led to variation in head positioning in clinical practice. We wanted to determine whether outcomes in patients with acute ischemic stroke could be improved by positioning the patient to be lying flat (i.e., fully supine with the back horizontal and the face upwards) during treatment to increase cerebral perfusion. Methods In a pragmatic, cluster-randomized, crossover trial conducted in nine countries, we assigned 11,093 patients with acute stroke (85% of the strokes were ischemic) to receive care in either a lying-flat position or a sitting-up position with the head elevated to at least 30 degrees, according to the randomization assignment of the hospital to which they were admitted; the designated position was initiated soon after hospital admission and was maintained for 24 hours. The primary outcome was degree of disability at 90 days, as assessed with the use of the modified Rankin scale (scores range from 0 to 6, with higher scores indicating greater disability and a score of 6 indicating death). Results The median interval between the onset of stroke symptoms and the initiation of the assigned position was 14 hours (interquartile range, 5 to 35). Patients in the lying-flat group were less likely than patients in the sitting-up group to maintain the position for 24 hours (87% vs. 95%, P<0.001). In a proportional-odds model, there was no significant shift in the distribution of 90-day disability outcomes on the global modified Rankin scale between patients in the lying-flat group and patients in the sitting-up group (unadjusted odds ratio for a difference in the distribution of scores on the modified Rankin scale in the lying-flat group, 1.01; 95% confidence interval, 0.92 to 1.10; P=0.84). Mortality within 90 days was 7.3% among the patients in the lying-flat group and 7.4% among the patients in the sitting-up group (P=0.83). There were no significant between-group differences in the rates of serious adverse events, including pneumonia. Conclusions Disability outcomes after acute stroke did not differ significantly between patients assigned to a lying-flat position for 24 hours and patients assigned to a sitting-up position with the head elevated to at least 30 degrees for 24 hours. (Funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia; HeadPoST number, NCT02162017 .).

Concepts: Clinical trial, Stroke, Traumatic brain injury, Modified Rankin Scale, Disability, Aspiration pneumonia, Cerebral blood flow, Barthel scale


Aspiration pneumonia is an important cause of morbidity and mortality in Parkinson’s disease (PD). Clinical characteristics of PD patients in addition to specific alterations in swallowing mechanisms contribute to higher swallowing times and impairment in the effective clearance of the airway. These issues may render patients more prone to dysphagia and aspiration events. We aimed to determine the frequency of aspiration events in a hospitalized PD cohort, and to report the number of in-hospital swallow evaluations.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Epidemiology, Clinical trial, Pneumonia, Actuarial science, Aspiration pneumonia, Dysphagia, Swallowing


When eating difficulties arise, feeding tubes are not recommended for older adults with advanced dementia. Careful hand feeding should be offered because hand feeding has been shown to be as good as tube feeding for the outcomes of death, aspiration pneumonia, functional status, and comfort. Moreover, tube feeding is associated with agitation, greater use of physical and chemical restraints, healthcare use due to tube-related complications, and development of new pressure ulcers. Efforts to enhance oral feeding by altering the environment and creating patient-centered approaches to feeding should be part of usual care for older adults with advanced dementia. Tube feeding is a medical therapy that an individual’s surrogate decision-maker can decline or accept in accordance with advance directives, previously stated wishes, or what it is thought the individual would want. It is the responsibility of all members of the healthcare team caring for residents in long-term care settings to understand any previously expressed wishes of the individuals (through review of advance directives and with surrogate caregivers) regarding tube feeding and to incorporate these wishes into the care plan. Institutions such as hospitals, nursing homes, and other care settings should promote choice, endorse shared and informed decision-making, and honor preferences regarding tube feeding. They should not impose obligations or exert pressure on individuals or providers to institute tube feeding.

Concepts: Medicine, Decision making, Pneumonia, Eating, Geriatrics, Individual, Aspiration pneumonia, Journal of the American Geriatrics Society


Prophylactic antimicrobial therapy is frequently prescribed for acute aspiration pneumonitis following macro-aspiration with the intent of preventing the development of aspiration pneumonia; however, few clinical studies have examined the benefits and harms of this practice.

Concepts: Pneumonia, Aspiration pneumonia