A prospective evaluation of short-term dysphagia after transoral robotic surgery for squamous cell carcinoma of the oropharynx

William Greer Albergotti, Jessica Jordan, Keely Anthony, Shira Abberbock, Tamara Wasserman-Wincko, Seungwon Kim, Robert L. Ferris, Umamaheswar Duvvuri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Transoral robotic surgery (TORS) for oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC) has been associated with improved long-term dysphagia symptomatology compared with chemoradiation. Dysphagia in the perioperative period has been inadequately characterized. The objective of this study was to characterize short-term swallowing outcomes after TORS for OPSCC. METHODS: Patients undergoing TORS for OPSCC were enrolled prospectively. The Eating Assessment Tool 10 (EAT-10) was used as a measure of swallowing dysfunction (score >2) and was administered on postoperative day (POD) 1, 7, and 30. Patient demographics, weight, pain level, and clinical outcomes were recorded prospectively and focused on time to oral diet, feeding tube placement, and dysphagia-related readmissions. RESULTS: A total of 51 patients were included with pathologic T stages of T1 (n = 24), T2 (n = 20), T3 (n = 3), and Tx (n = 4). Self-reported preoperative dysphagia was unusual (13.7%). The mean EAT-10 score on POD 1 was lower than on POD 7 (21.5 vs 26.6; P =.005) but decreased by POD 30 (26.1 to 12.2; P <.001). Forty-seven (92.1%) patients were discharged on an oral diet, but 57.4% required compensatory strategies or modification of liquid consistency. Ninety-eight percent of patients were taking an oral diet by POD 30. There were no dysphagia-related readmissions. CONCLUSION: This prospective study shows that most patients who undergo TORS experience dysphagia for at least the first month postoperatively, but nearly all can be started on an oral diet. The dysphagia-associated complication profile is acceptable after TORS with a minority of patients requiring temporary feeding tube placement. Aggressive evaluation and management of postoperative dysphagia in TORS patients may help prevent dysphagia-associated readmissions. Cancer 2017;123:3132–40.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3132-3140
Number of pages9
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 15 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Dysphagia
  • TORS
  • oropharyngeal cancer
  • oropharyngeal carcinoma
  • transoral robotic surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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