Aspiration and severe exacerbations in COPD: A prospective study

Lydia Cvejic, Nadine Guiney, Tiffany Nicholson, Kenneth K. Lau, Paul Finlay, Kais Hamza, Christian Osadnik, Paul Leong, Martin Macdonald, Paul T. King, Philip G. Bardin

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4 Citations (Scopus)


Rationale: Swallow may be compromised in COPD leading to aspiration and adverse respiratory consequences. However, prevalence and consequences of detectable aspiration in stable COPD are not known. Objectives: We tested the hypothesis that a significant number of patients with stable COPD will have detectable aspiration during swallow (prandial aspiration) and that they would experience more frequent severe acute exacerbations of COPD (AECOPD) over the subsequent 12 months. Methods: Patients (n=151) with verified and stable COPD of all severities were recruited at a tertiary care hospital. Videofluoroscopy was conducted to evaluate aspiration using Rosenbek’s scale for penetration–aspiration during 100-mL cup drinking. AECOPD was documented as moderate (antibiotics and/or corticosteroid treatment) or severe (emergency department admission or hospitalisation) over the ensuing 12 months. Measurements and main results: Aspiration was observed in 30 out of 151 patients (19.9%, 18 males, 12 females; mean age 72.4 years). Patients with aspiration had more overall AECOPD events (3.03 versus 2 per patient; p=0.022) and severe AECOPD episodes (0.87 versus 0.39; p=0.032). Severe AECOPD occurred in more patients with aspiration (50% of patients versus 18.2%; OR 4.5, CI 1.9–10.5; p=0.001) and with silent aspiration (36.7% versus 18.2%; OR 2.6, CI 1.1–6.2; p=0.045). Aspiration was related to a shorter exacerbation-free period during the 12-month follow-up period (p=0.038). Conclusions: Prandial aspiration is detectable in a subset of patients with COPD and was predictive of subsequent severe AECOPD. Studies to examine if the association is causal are essential to direct strategies aimed at prevention of aspiration and AECOPD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number00735-2020
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalERJ Open Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

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