Upright epiglottis prevents aspiration in patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma post-chemoradiation

Susyana Tamin, Marlinda Adham, Arfan Noer, Nana Supriana, Saptawati Bardosono

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2 Citations (Scopus)


NPC is the most widely found malignant tumor in the head and neck region in Indonesia. Chemoradiation therapy for NPC can induce swallowing disorders (dysphagia) that adversely affects a patients quality of life. This study aimed to assess the swallowing process by flexible endoscopic evaluation of swallowing in patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma after chemoradiation. Thirty-nine patients with NPC who had chemoradiation therapy more than one month previously underwent flexible endoscopic evaluation of swallowing and were assessed for oral transport time, sensation, standing-secretion, pre-swallowing leakage, residue, penetration, aspiration, and silent aspiration. The most common structural abnormalities were an upright and swollen epiglottis (89.4%), poor oral hygiene, and velopharyngeal closure defects (56.4%). This examination also revealed a mild degree of standing secretion (38.5%) and aspiration (10.3%). No penetration was observed in 64.1% of the patients, and no silent aspiration was observed in any of the patients. A severe degree of residue (45.7%) was observed when administering oatmeal, while the residue was mild to moderate when administering gastric rice, crackers, and milk. The residue changed to a mild degree (32.3%-51.4%) in all food administrations after the watering maneuver. The highest penetration was noted after oatmeal administration (42.8%), and the highest aspiration was found after milk administration (8.6%). Standing secretion in almost all patients was caused by hyposensitivity of the hypopharynx. Persistent residue and hyposensitivity of the hypopharynx led to aspiration. The low percentage of aspiration and silent aspiration might have been caused by the upright and swollen epiglottis that prevented aspiration. Poor oral hygiene and a dry mouth led to prolonged oral transport. Therefore, most patients had hypopharyngeal abnormalities in the form of a swollen and upright epiglottis. Secretion and food residue were also detected. Drinking helps to expedite the swallowing process by facilitating oral phase transport and reducing residues.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0261110
JournalPloS one
Issue number12 December
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


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