The prevalence of post-extubation dysphagia in critically ill adults: an Australian data linkage study

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Objective: To define the prevalence of dysphagia after endotracheal intubation in critically ill adult patients. 

Design: A retrospective observational data linkage cohort study using the Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Society Adult Patient Database and a mandatory government statewide health care administration database. \Setting: Private and public intensive care units (ICUs) within Victoria, Australia. 

Participants: Adult patients who required endotracheal intubation for the purpose of mechanical ventilation within a Victorian ICU between July 2013 and June 2018. 

Main outcome measures: Presence of dysphagia, aspiration pneumonia, ICU length of stay, hospital length of stay, and cost per episode of care. 

Results: Endotracheal intubation in the ICU was required for 71 124 patient episodes across the study period. Dysphagia was coded in 7.3% (n = 5203) of those episodes. Patients with dysphagia required longer ICU (median, 154 [interquartile range (IQR), 78–259] v 53 [IQR, 27–107] hours; P < 0.001) and hospital admissions (median, 20 [IQR, 13–30] v 8 [IQR, 5–15] days; P < 0.001), were more likely to develop aspiration pneumonia (17.2% v 5.6%; odds ratio, 3.0; 95% CI, 2.8–3.2; P < 0.001), and the median health care expenditure increased by 93% per episode of care ($73 586 v $38 108; P < 0.001) compared with patients without dysphagia. 

Conclusions: Post-extubation dysphagia is associated with adverse patient and health care outcomes. Consideration should be given to strategies that support early identification of patients with dysphagia in the ICU to determine if these adverse outcomes can be reduced.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)352-359
Number of pages8
JournalCritical Care and Resuscitation
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 5 Dec 2022


  • post-extubation dysphagia
  • endotracheal intubation
  • critically ill patients
  • swallowing dysfunction
  • dysphagia
  • intensive care unit (ICU)


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