Johns Hopkins experts are recommending early post-surgical assessment -- preferably within 24 hours -- for trouble chewing and swallowing food, or speaking normally, among patients who have had benign tumors removed from the base of the brain.
Such early assessments, they say, may minimize complications associated with the sometimes hazelnut-sized tumors, called vestibular schwannomas. Damage can arise when the tumors themselves press on the nearby cranial nerves -- key to controlling the tongue, lips, mouth and throat -- or from the surgery itself.
Researchers say their recommendation is based on study results from a trio of surveys the team conducted, the latest of which is to be published in the December edition of the journal The Laryngoscope, showing such complications after brain-tumor surgery were several times more common than previously thought.
They also found that post-surgical dysphagia and vocal cord paralysis were associated with other illnesses, including pneumonia, especially if they necessitated implantation of feeding or breathing tubes. These complications, in turn, led to longer, costlier hospital stays, or additional care at rehabilitation facilities.
"Our results show the tremendous toll post-surgical complications with swallowing and vocal cord paralysis can exact on health and recovery, even though such problems are not well-reported," says laryngologist and study senior co-investigator Lee Akst, M.D. Each year, Akst says, his team treats more than a dozen patients who have voice problems after surgery to remove mostly benign vestibular schwannomas, for which the number of new cases reported annually in the United States is estimated at less than 10,000.
"Physicians and speech therapists really need to closely monitor
their patients for early signs and symptoms, such as breathy,
whispery voices and trouble keeping food in their mouth whi
|Contact: David March|
Johns Hopkins Medicine