Identification of people with Parkinson disease (PD) who are at risk for aspiration is important, especially because of the high prevalence of aspiration pneumonia.
Fifty-eight consecutive patients (Hoehn and Yahr stage II-III; average age 72.3) were enrolled in the study. Measures of airflow during voluntary cough production and the degree of penetration/aspiration on a 3-oz oropharyngeal swallow task, derived from videofluorographic images, were examined.
To detect at-risk people (those with penetration and/or aspiration on the 3-oz swallow task), four objective measures of voluntary cough (compression phase duration [CPD], expiratory phase rise time [EPRT], expiratory phase peak flow [EPPF], and cough volume acceleration [CVA)]) were collected. CPD, EPRT, EPPF, and CVA measurements produced significant area under the curve (AUC) analyses and likelihood ratios equal to 0.83:2.72, 0.71:2.68, 0.69:1.75, and 0.78:18.42, respectively. CPD, EPRT, EPPF, and CVA measurements demonstrated sensitivities of 95.83%, 70.83%, 87.50%, and 84.53%, and specificities of 64.71%, 73.53%, 50.01%, and 97.06%, respectively. For detection of aspiration, EPPF was significantly associated with an AUC = 0.88 and with an EPPF < 5.24, which had a sensitivity of 57.15% and a specificity of 100%.
The data from this pilot study suggest that in patients with PD, objective airflow measures from voluntary cough production may identify at-risk penetrator/aspirators. To our knowledge, this is the first study to evaluate the discriminative ability of voluntary cough airflow characteristics to model airway compromise in people with PD.