Objective The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between patient-reported symptoms of oropharyngeal dysphagia (OD) using the Eating Assessment Tool (EAT)-10 and the swallowing function using a standardized fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES) protocol in head and neck cancer (HNC) patients with confirmed OD.

Methods Fifty-seven dysphagic HNC patients completed the EAT-10 and a FEES. Two blinded clinicians scored the randomized FEES examinations. Exclusion criteria consisted of presenting with a concurrent neurological disease, scoring below 23 on a Mini-Mental State Examination, being older than 85 years, having undergone a total laryngectomy, and being illiterate or blind. Descriptive statistics, linear regression, sensitivity, specificity, and predictive values were calculated.

Results The majority of the dysphagic patients (N = 38; 66.7%) aspirated after swallowing thin liquid consistency. A large number of patients showed postswallow pharyngeal residue while swallowing thick liquid consistency. More specifically, 42 (73.0%) patients presented postswallow vallecular residue, and 39 (67.9%) patients presented postswallow pyriform sinus residue. All dysphagic patients had an EAT-10 score >= 3. Linear regression analyses showed significant differences in mean EAT-10 scores between the dichotomized categories (abnormal vs. normal) of postswallow vallecular (P = .037) and pyriform sinus residue (P = .013). No statistically significant difference in mean EAT-10 scores between the dichotomized categories of penetration or aspiration was found (P = .966).

Conclusion The EAT-10 questionnaire seems to have an indicative value for the presence of postswallow pharyngeal residue in dysphagic HNC patients, and a value of 19 points turned out to be useful as a cutoff point for the presence of pharyngeal residue in this study population.

Level of Evidence: 2b

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E45-E51
Number of pages7
Issue number1
Early online date4 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • Dysphagia
  • deglutition
  • deglutition disorders
  • EAT-10
  • head and neck cancer


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