Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Swallowing Speed as Potential Predictor of Aspiration in Parkinson’s Disease Patients

Version 1 : Received: 31 March 2019 / Approved: 1 April 2019 / Online: 1 April 2019 (13:32:41 CEST)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.


There is still a lack of a clinical test to reliably identify patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) being at risk for aspiration. In this prospective, controlled, cross-sectional study we assessed if swallowing speed for water is a useful clinical test to predict aspiration proven by flexible endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES). Due to this we measured the swallowing speed for 90 ml water in 115 consecutive and unselected PD outpatients of all clinical stages and 32 healthy controls. Average swallowing speed was lower in patients compared with controls (6.5 ± 3.9 ml/s vs. 8.5 ± 3.2 ml/s; p < 0.01). The disease-independent widely used threshold of < 10 ml/s showed insufficient sensitivity of 88% and specificity of 19% with unacceptable false-positive rates of 63% for patients and 69% for controls. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis was carried out to define a suitable cut-off value for detection of aspiration of water (area under the curve 0.72, p < 0.001) in PD patients. The optimized cut-off value was 5.5 ml/s with a sensitivity of 69% and a specificity of 64%. Overall, measuring swallowing speed is prone to methodological errors and not suitable as a screening instrument to predict aspiration in PD patients.


dysphagia; FEES; Parkinson’s disease; swallowing speed; screening; water test


Medicine and Pharmacology, Neuroscience and Neurology

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