Oropharyngeal Swallowing Physiology and Safety in Patients with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis: A consecutive descriptive case series

Amal Alamer, Rhys Jones, M Drinnan, A. John Simpson, Mike Griffin, Joanne M. Patterson, Abdullah Althuwaybi, Chris Ward, Ian Forrest

Research output: Working paperPreprint


Dysphagia occurs in multiple respiratory pathophysiologies, increasing the risk of pulmonary complications secondary to aspiration. Reflux associated aspiration and a dysregulated lung microbiome is implicated in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF), but swallowing dysfunction has not been described. We aimed to explore oropharyngeal swallowing in IPF patients, without known swallowing dysfunction.

Fourteen consecutive outpatients with a secure diagnosis of IPF were recruited and the 10-item Eating Assessment Tool (Eat 10) used to assess patient perception of swallowing difficulty. Oropharyngeal swallowing was assessed in ten patients using Videofluoroscopy Swallow Studies (VFSS). The studies were rated using validated scales: Penetration-Aspiration Scale (PAS); standardised Modified Barium Swallow Impairment Profile (MBSImP).

EAT-10 scores indicated frank swallowing difficulty in 4/14 patients. Videofluoroscopy Studies showed that 3/10 patients had airway penetration, and one aspirated liquid without a cough response. Median MBSImp for oral impairment was 5, range [3–7] and pharyngeal impairment 4, range [1–14] indicating, overall mild alteration to swallowing physiology.

We conclude that people with IPF can show a range of swallowing dysfunction, including aspiration into an unprotected airway. To our knowledge, this is the first report on swallowing physiology and safety in IPF. We believe a proportion of this group may be at risk of aspiration. Further work is indicated to fully explore swallowing in this vulnerable group.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherResearch Square
Number of pages11
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Jul 2022
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameBMC Series: BMC Pulmonary Medicine


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