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Cervical auscultation as an adjunct to the clinical swallow examination: a comparison with fibre-optic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing.

Journal article
Authors Liza Bergström
Per Svensson
Lena Hartelius
Published in International journal of speech-language pathology
Volume 16
Issue 5
Pages 517-28
ISSN 1754-9515
Publication year 2014
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology
Institute of Clinical Sciences, Department of Otorhinolaryngology
Pages 517-28
Language en
Keywords Dysphagia , assessment , evidence , validity , reliability
Subject categories Otorhinolaryngology


This prospective, single-blinded study investigated the validity and reliability of cervical auscultation (CA) under two conditions; (1) CA-only, using isolated swallow-sound clips, and (2) CSE + CA, using extra clinical swallow examination (CSE) information such as patient case history, oromotor assessment, and the same swallow-sound clips as condition one. The two CA conditions were compared against a fibre-optic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES) reference test. Each CA condition consisted of 18 swallows samples compiled from 12 adult patients consecutively referred to the FEES clinic. Patients' swallow sounds were simultaneously recorded during FEES via a Littmann E3200 electronic stethoscope. These 18 swallow samples were sent to 13 experienced dysphagia clinicians recruited from the UK and Australia who were blinded to the FEES results. Samples were rated in terms of (1) if dysphagic, (2) if the patient was safe on consistency trialled, and (3) dysphagia severity. Sensitivity measures ranged from 83-95%, specificity measures from 50-92% across the conditions. Intra-rater agreement ranged from 69-97% total agreement. Inter-rater reliability for dysphagia severity showed substantial agreement (rs = 0.68 and 0.74). Results show good rater reliability for CA-trained speech-language pathologists. Sensitivity and specificity for both CA conditions in this study are comparable to and often better than other well-established CSE components.

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