Systematic dysphagia screening and dietary modifications to reduce stroke-associated pneumonia rates in a stroke-unit

Yvonne Teuschl, Michaela Trapl, Paulina Ratajczak, Karl Matz, Alexandra Dachenhausen, Michael Brainin

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

36 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: While formal screening for dysphagia following acute stroke is strongly recommended, there is little evidence on how multi-consistency screening and dietary modifications affect the rate of stroke-associated pneumonia (SAP). This observational study reports which factors affect formal screening on a stroke-unit and how dietary recommendations relate to SAP.

METHOD: Analyses from a database including 1394 patients admitted with acute stroke at our stroke-unit in Austria between 2012 and 2014. Dietary modifications were performed following the recommendations from the Gugging Swallowing Screen (GUSS). Patients evaluated with GUSS were compared to the unscreened patients.

RESULTS: Overall, 993 (71.2%) patients were screened with GUSS; of these 50 (5.0%) developed SAP. In the 401 unscreened patients, the SAP rate was similar: 22 (5.5%). Multivariable analysis showed that either mild to very mild strokes or very severe strokes were less likely to undergo formal screening. Older age, pre-existing disability, history of hypertension, atrial fibrillation, stroke severity, cardiological and neurological complications, nasogastric tubes, and intubation were significant markers for SAP. Out of 216 patients, 30 (13.9%) developed SAP in spite of receiving nil per mouth (NPO).

CONCLUSION: The routine use of GUSS is less often applied in either mild strokes or very severe strokes. While most patients with high risk of SAP were identified by GUSS and assigned to NPO, dietary modifications could not prevent SAP in 1 of 7 cases. Other causes of SAP such as silent aspiration, bacteraemia or central breathing disturbances should be considered.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0192142
Pages (from-to)e0192142
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018


  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Deglutition Disorders/diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pneumonia/etiology
  • Stroke/complications


Dive into the research topics of 'Systematic dysphagia screening and dietary modifications to reduce stroke-associated pneumonia rates in a stroke-unit'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this