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Association of perioperative oral swallowing function with post-esophagectomy outcomes and nutritional statuses in patients with esophageal cancer.

Dysphagia after esophagectomy is a serious complication; however, no method has been established to accurately assess swallowing function. We evaluated the association of swallowing function tests with patients' post-esophagectomy complications and nutritional statuses. We retrospectively reviewed the data of 95 patients with esophageal cancer who underwent esophagectomy between 2016 and 2021. We performed perioperative swallowing function tests, including the repetitive saliva swallowing test (RSST), maximum phonation time (MPT), and laryngeal elevation (LE). Patients with recurrent laryngeal nerve palsy (RLNP) and respiratory complications (RC) had significantly lower postoperative RSST scores than patients without them; the scores in patients with or without anastomotic leakage (AL) were similar. Postoperative MPT in patients with RLNP was shorter than that in patients without RLNP; however, it was similar to that in patients with or without AL and RC. LE was not associated with any complications. Patients with an RSST score ≤2 at 2 weeks post-esophagectomy had significant weight loss at 1, 6, and 12 months postoperatively compared with patients with an RSST score ≥3. The proportion of patients with severe weight loss (≥20% weight loss) within 1 year of esophagectomy was significantly greater in patients with RSST scores ≤2 than in those with RSST scores ≥3. Multivariate analysis showed that an RSST score ≤2 was the only predictor of severe post-esophagectomy weight loss. RSST scoring is a simple tool for evaluating post-esophagectomy swallowing function. A lower RSST score is associated with postoperative RLNP, RC, and poor nutritional status.

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