Bio

Bio


Heather Starmer is an Assistant Professor and Director of the Head and Neck Cancer Speech and Swallowing Rehabilitation Center. Prior to joining the faculty at Stanford University, Heather served as the lead of the head and neck cancer rehabilitation program at Johns Hopkins University.
Heather graduated from California State University at Long Beach in 1998 with a BA in Communicative Disorders. She earned her MA from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. She completed her fellowship at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Pittsburgh with a focus in head and neck cancer and rehabilitation of swallowing disorders.

Heather specializes in the rehabilitation of speech, voice, and swallowing in patients with head and neck cancer. She has particular interest in prevention of communication and swallowing disorders associated with radiation and chemotherapy. She has a strong interest in head and neck cancer survivorship and helping patients to accomplish their personal goals and to optimize their quality of life long term. She is a board certified specialist in swallowing disorders.

Heather’s academic goals include improving communication and swallowing outcomes following a diagnosis of head and neck cancer through clinical research. She was a key member of a collaborative research group at Johns Hopkins resulting in multiple publications and presentations on strategies to minimize speech and swallowing difficulties. Recent advances in pain management during radiation therapy developed by this research collaborative have already shown great promise in protecting patients from potential swallowing difficulties during and after their cancer treatment. She works closely with colleagues in surgery, radiation oncology, and medical oncology to tackle the often difficult problems encountered by patients with head and neck cancer. She has particular interest in investigating the role of innovative surgical techniques such as Transoral Robotic Surgery (TORS) in minimizing long term functional deficits.

Heather is involved in the education of future speech pathologists as well as residents and fellows in the Otolaryngology program. She regularly lectures on issues regarding rehabilitation of patients with head and neck cancer at multiple universities as well as at the national level. She is a member of multiple professional societies including the American Speech Language Hearing Association, the Dysphagia Research Society, and the American Head and Neck Society.

Academic Appointments


Administrative Appointments


  • Director, Head and Neck Cancer Speech and Swallowing Rehabilitation, Stanford University (2014 - Present)

Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations


  • Member, American Speech Language Hearing Association (2000 - Present)
  • Member, American Head and Neck Society (2010 - Present)
  • Member, American Speech Language Hearing Association Special Interest Group 3 - Voice Disorders (2009 - Present)
  • Member, American Speech Language Hearing Association Special Interest Group 13 -Swallowing disorders (2009 - Present)
  • Member, Dysphagia Research Society (2010 - Present)
  • Member, American Head and Neck Society - Prevention and Early Detection Committee (2013 - Present)

Professional Education


  • BA, California State University - Long Beach, Communicative Disorders (1998)
  • MA, University of Pittsburgh, Communication Science and Disorders (2000)
  • Certificate, Johns Hopkins University, Clinical Investigation (2010)

Research & Scholarship

Current Research and Scholarly Interests


Heather’s areas of research interest include investigation of strategies to enhance patient adherence to rehabilitation plans during head and neck cancer treatment, evaluation of communication and swallowing outcomes after Transoral Robotic Surgery (TORS), and assessment of voice outcomes after thyroid surgeries.

Clinical Trials


  • Multispectral Imaging to Characterize Patterns of Vascular Supply Within Lymphoepithelial Mucosa in Oropharyngeal Cancer Recruiting

    The purpose of this study is to characterize the blood supply at the base of the tongue and within the tonsil region. We hypothesize that high-resolution Narrow Band Imaging (NBI) will improve the diagnosis of oropharyngeal carcinoma (OPC). The goal is to provide the better assessment of tumor and thus providing better preoperative expectations to patients with OPC or tumor extent prior to radiation therapy.

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Publications

All Publications


  • The impact of developing a speech and swallow rehab program: Improving patient satisfaction and multidisciplinary care. Laryngoscope Starmer, H. M., Ayoub, N., Byward, C., Kizner, J., Le, Q., Hara, W., Holsinger, F. C. 2017

    Abstract

    The objective of this study was to evaluate the impact of developing an integrated head and neck cancer speech and swallowing rehabilitation program on physician/team focus on functional outcomes.Prospective cross-sectional design.Surveys regarding physician behavior and patient satisfaction with speech and swallowing were administered in an academic oncology practice prior to and 1 year following establishment of a dedicated head and neck speech and swallowing rehabilitation program. Participants included new and established head and neck cancer patients recruited consecutively. The primary outcome was physician behavior regarding speech and swallowing outcomes (as measured by discussion of function, providing suggestions regarding function, and referral to speech-language pathology services).A total of 199 surveys were returned at the first time point and 271 at the second. Demographic variables were comparable between the two groups. The later cohort was more likely to report team discussion and suggestions regarding speech and swallowing function than the former (P < .001, 95% confidence interval [CI]: -0.775 to -0.265; P < .001, 95% CI: -0.928 to -0.035, respectively). Although there was no significant difference between the groups in regard to satisfaction with speech (P = .07), more favorable satisfaction with swallowing was reported by the later cohort (P = .028, 95% CI: -0.531 to -0.029).Integration of speech and swallowing rehabilitation into head and neck cancer programs is associated with increased physician focus on functional outcomes and greater patient satisfaction in regard to swallowing function. We advocate for standard integration of such services into the multidisciplinary head and neck cancer care team.4. Laryngoscope, 2017.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/lary.26695

    View details for PubMedID 28561453

  • One-Year Swallowing Outcomes in Patients Treated with Prophylactic Gabapentin During Radiation-Based Treatment for Oropharyngeal Cancer. Dysphagia Starmer, H. M., Yang, W., Gourin, C. G., Kumar, R., Jones, B., McNutt, T., Cheng, S., Quon, H. 2017

    Abstract

    Recent investigations by our study team have demonstrated patients using gabapentin for pain management during chemoradiotherapy (CRT) do well maintaining swallowing during treatment with less need for narcotic pain medication, PEG dependence, weight loss, and short-term swallowing morbidity. The purpose of this investigation was to characterize the long-term swallowing function of these patients 1-year following treatment. Sequential patients receiving CRT for oropharyngeal cancer and concurrent gabapentin were evaluated 1-year following treatment for swallowing outcomes. Functional Oral Intake Scores (FOIS) were utilized to assess diet level. The MD Anderson Dysphagia Inventory (MDADI) was chosen to evaluate patient perception of swallowing function. Videofluoroscopic swallowing studies were completed approximately 1 year after treatment to assess physiologic outcomes as well as Penetration Aspiration Scores (PAS). Data from 26 consecutive participants were available for analysis. The majority of patients had advanced stage disease (Stage 3-4). No patients had a PEG tube 1-year following treatment, and the mean FOIS score was 6.83. Pharyngeal deficits were infrequent with reduced pharyngeal constriction and prominence/early closure of cricopharyngeus predominating. Mean PAS score was 1.5, indicating that the majority of patients had either no laryngeal penetration/aspiration, or transient penetration that was fully cleared. Mean MDADI score was 85.52, indicating that, in general, patients perceived their swallowing to be minimally impaired. Patients receiving gabapentin pain management as part of a comprehensive dysphagia prevention protocol during CRT have excellent long-term swallowing outcomes as reflected in diet levels, physiologic functioning, and patient-perceived quality of life.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s00455-017-9783-5

    View details for PubMedID 28204979

  • Dynamic Imaging Grade of Swallowing Toxicity (DIGEST): Scale Development and Validation CANCER Hutcheson, K. A., Barrow, M. P., Barringer, D. A., Knott, J. K., Lin, H. Y., Weber, R. S., Fuller, C. D., Lai, S. Y., Alvarez, C. P., Raut, J., Lazarus, C. L., May, A., Patterson, J., Roe, J. W., Starmer, H. M., Lewin, J. S. 2017; 123 (1): 62-70

    View details for DOI 10.1002/cncr.30283

    View details for Web of Science ID 000394719100009

  • The Impact of Dysphonic Voices on Healthy Listeners: Listener Reaction Times, Speech Intelligibility, and Listener Comprehension. American journal of speech-language pathology Evitts, P. M., Starmer, H., Teets, K., Montgomery, C., Calhoun, L., Schulze, A., MacKenzie, J., Adams, L. 2016: 1-15

    Abstract

    There is currently minimal information on the impact of dysphonia secondary to phonotrauma on listeners. Considering the high incidence of voice disorders with professional voice users, it is important to understand the impact of a dysphonic voice on their audiences.Ninety-one healthy listeners (39 men, 52 women; mean age = 23.62 years) were presented with speech stimuli from 5 healthy speakers and 5 speakers diagnosed with dysphonia secondary to phonotrauma. Dependent variables included processing speed (reaction time [RT] ratio), speech intelligibility, and listener comprehension. Voice quality ratings were also obtained for all speakers by 3 expert listeners.Statistical results showed significant differences between RT ratio and number of speech intelligibility errors between healthy and dysphonic voices. There was not a significant difference in listener comprehension errors. Multiple regression analyses showed that voice quality ratings from the Consensus Assessment Perceptual Evaluation of Voice (Kempster, Gerratt, Verdolini Abbott, Barkmeier-Kraemer, & Hillman, 2009) were able to predict RT ratio and speech intelligibility but not listener comprehension.Results of the study suggest that although listeners require more time to process and have more intelligibility errors when presented with speech stimuli from speakers with dysphonia secondary to phonotrauma, listener comprehension may not be affected.

    View details for DOI 10.1044/2016_AJSLP-14-0183

    View details for PubMedID 27784031

  • Dynamic Imaging Grade of Swallowing Toxicity (DIGEST): Scale development and validation. Cancer Hutcheson, K. A., Barrow, M. P., Barringer, D. A., Knott, J. K., Lin, H. Y., Weber, R. S., Fuller, C. D., Lai, S. Y., Alvarez, C. P., Raut, J., Lazarus, C. L., May, A., Patterson, J., Roe, J. W., Starmer, H. M., Lewin, J. S. 2016

    Abstract

    The National Cancer Institute's Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (CTCAE) is the universal framework for toxicity reporting in oncology trials. The objective of this study was to develop a CTCAE-compatible modified barium swallow (MBS) grade for the purpose of grading pharyngeal dysphagia as a toxicity endpoint in cooperative-group organ-preservation trials for head and neck cancer (HNC). It was hypothesized that a 5-point, CTCAE-compatible MBS grade (Dynamic Imaging Grade of Swallowing Toxicity [DIGEST]) based on the interaction of pharyngeal residue and laryngeal penetration/aspiration ratings would be feasible and psychometrically sound.A modified Delphi exercise was conducted for content validation, expert consensus, and operationalization of DIGEST criteria. Two blinded raters scored 100 MBSs conducted before or after surgical or nonsurgical organ preservation. Intrarater and interrater reliability was tested with weighted κ values. Criterion validity against oropharyngeal swallow efficiency (OPSE), the Modified Barium Swallow Impairment Profile (MBSImP™©), the MD Anderson Dysphagia Inventory (MDADI), and the Performance Status Scale for Head and Neck Cancer Patients (PSS-HN) was assessed with a 1-way analysis of variance and post hoc pairwise comparisons between DIGEST grades.Intrarater reliability was excellent (weighted κ = 0.82-0.84) with substantial to almost perfect agreement between raters (weighted κ = 0.67-0.81). DIGEST significantly discriminated levels of pharyngeal pathophysiology (MBSImP™©: r = 0.77; P < .0001), swallow efficiency (OPSE: r = -0.56; P < .0001), perceived dysphagia (MDADI: r = -0.41; P < .0001), and oral intake (PSS-HN diet: r = -0.49; P < .0001).With the development of DIGEST, the MBS rating has been adapted to the CTCAE nomenclature of ordinal toxicity grading used in oncology trials. DIGEST offers a psychometrically sound measure for HNC clinical trials and investigations of toxicity profiles, dose responses, and predictive modeling. Cancer 2017;62-70. © 2016 American Cancer Society.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/cncr.30283

    View details for PubMedID 27564246

  • The Effect of Radiation Dose on Swallowing: Evaluation of Aspiration and Kinematics DYSPHAGIA Starmer, H. M., Quon, H., Kumar, R., Alcorn, S., Murano, E., Jones, B., Humbert, I. 2015; 30 (4): 430-437

    Abstract

    Radiation oncologists have focused on the pharyngeal constrictors as the primary muscles of concern for dysphagia. However, our prior investigations have demonstrated that radiation dose to the geniohyoid rather than the constrictor muscles was more closely related to penetration aspiration scores (PAS). We examined the relationship between (1) radiation dose and swallowing temporal kinematics, and (2) between PAS and swallowing kinematics in these patients. Videofluoroscopic swallowing studies of 41 patients following radiation therapy for oropharyngeal cancer were analyzed for thin liquid boluses. Timing measures included duration of laryngeal vestibule closure (DLVC), duration to maximum hyoid elevation (DTMHE), duration to cricopharyngeal opening (DTCPO), and pharyngeal transit time (PTT). PAS was extracted for each swallow and considered normal if ≤2. As minimum and mean dose to the geniohyoid increased, DTMHE, DTCPO, and PTT increased. Worse PA scores were most strongly correlated with radiation dose received by geniohyoid (r = 0.445, p < 0.0001). Mean DLVC varied according to PAS group (normal PAS mean = 0.67 s, abnormal PAS mean = 0.13 s; p < 0.001). Similarly, DTCPO was significantly different based upon PAS (normal PAS mean = 0.22 s, abnormal PAS mean = 0.37 s, p = 0.016). As PAS increased, DTPCO and PTT increased (r = 0.208, p = 0.04; r = 0.204, p = 0.043). A negative correlation was noted between PAS and DLVC (r = -0.375, p = 0.001). Higher doses of radiation to the geniohyoid muscles are associated with increased severity of dysphagia as measured through both kinematics and PAS. Consideration of dose to the geniohyoid should be considered when planning radiation.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s00455-015-9618-1

    View details for Web of Science ID 000358190800006

  • Quantifying Labial Strength and Function in Facial Paralysis Effect of Targeted Lip Injection Augmentation JAMA FACIAL PLASTIC SURGERY Starmer, H., Lyford-Pike, S., Ishii, L. E., Byrne, P. A., Boahene, K. D. 2015; 17 (4): 274-278

    Abstract

    Facial muscle weakness from paralysis or muscle dystrophy can significantly affect lip strength and function. Lip muscle weakness may result in articulation difficulties and spillage of food, both of which are socially and functionally disruptive for patients. There are few quantitative data on the effect of facial paralysis on lip strength.To quantify the effect of facial paralysis and muscular dystrophy on lip strength and evaluate the effectiveness of targeted lip injection augmentation.Analysis of patients at the Johns Hopkins Hospital between January 1, 2008, and July 31, 2014, presenting for treatment of lip incompetence due to facial paralysis and facial muscular dystrophy was prospectively undertaken. Patients who had undergone direct surgical lip procedures were excluded.Lip pressure measurements, anterior bolus spillage, and articulation of bilabial sounds before and after treatment were assessed by a single speech pathologist. Lip pressures were measured with the Iowa Oral Performance Instrument.Twenty-two patients with unilateral facial paralysis were evaluated for this study. Three patients with facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy were also evaluated. In unilateral facial paralysis, central lip strength was reduced in all patients compared with sex-corrected normative data (mean [SD] central lip strength, 5.5 [2.5] kPa in females and 9.6 [4.6] kPa in males). Compared with the nonparalyzed side, labial strength on the paralyzed sided was reduced by 69%. After injection augmentation of the paralyzed side, labial strength improved across the entire lip. Mean lip strength improved by 0.7-fold in the central lip from 5.60 to 9.30 kPa (P = .009), by 1.4-fold on the paralyzed side from 2.2 to 5.33 kPa (P = .006), and by 0.4-fold on the unaffected side from 7.11 to 9.56 kPa (P = .12). Lip strength in the 3 patients with facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy were uniformly reduced across the entire lip and improved by 6- to 7-fold after injection augmentation. All patients were noted by the speech pathologist to have improved articulation of plosive sounds and decreased anterior bolus spillage after the injection.Labial strength is reduced across the lip in patients with unilateral facial paralysis. The Iowa Oral Performance Instrument is an effective tool for measuring labial strength and can be use to evaluate the effectiveness of facial reanimation procedures. Injection augmentation of the lip is a simple and effective means of improving labial strength, bilabial sounds, and anterior spillage in patients with facial paralysis or facial muscular dystrophy.3.

    View details for DOI 10.1001/jamafacial.2015.0477

    View details for Web of Science ID 000358080400008

    View details for PubMedID 26086151

  • Effect of Gabapentin on Swallowing During and After Chemoradiation for Oropharyngeal Squamous Cell Cancer DYSPHAGIA Starmer, H. M., Yang, W., Raval, R., Gourin, C. G., Richardson, M., Kumar, R., Jones, B., McNutt, T., Cheng, S., Quon, H. 2014; 29 (3): 396-402

    Abstract

    The aim of this study was to examine the impact of gabapentin (neurontin) on swallowing and feeding tube use during chemoradiation (CRT) for oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC), and physiologic swallowing outcomes following completion of treatment. A total of 23 patients treated for OPSCC with concurrent CRT and prophylactically treated for pain using gabapentin were assessed. Historical controls were matched for T stage and primary site of disease. Timing of PEG use and removal were recorded. Video fluoroscopic swallowing studies were completed post-treatment to assess physiologic outcomes as well as penetration-aspiration scores (PAS). Functional oral intake scale (FOIS) scores were determined at the time of swallowing evaluation to assess diet level. Patients treated with gabapentin began using their PEG tubes later (3.7 vs. 2.29 weeks; P = 0.013) and had their PEG tubes removed earlier (7.29 vs. 32.56 weeks; P = 0.039) than the historical controls. A number of physiologic parameters were found to be less impacted in the gabapentin group, including oral bolus control (P = 0.01), epiglottic tilt (P = 0.0007), laryngeal elevation (P = 0.0017), and pharyngeal constriction (P = 0.002). PAS scores were significantly lower in the group treated with gabapentin (1.89 vs. 4; P = 0.0052). Patients receiving gabapentin had more advanced diet levels at the time of the initial swallowing study as evidenced by their FOIS scores (5.4 vs. 3.21; P = 0.0003). We conclude that patients using gabapentin for pain management during CRT appears to do well maintaining swallow function during treatment and have favorable post-treatment physiologic swallowing outcomes. Prospective evaluation is warranted.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s00455-014-9521-1

    View details for Web of Science ID 000338230500012

    View details for PubMedID 24633355

  • Dysphagia in head and neck cancer: prevention and treatment CURRENT OPINION IN OTOLARYNGOLOGY & HEAD AND NECK SURGERY Starmer, H. M. 2014; 22 (3): 195-200

    Abstract

    Swallowing difficulties are among the most problematic outcomes associated with head and neck cancer (HNCA) and the strategies employed to treat it. With a rising incidence of human papilloma virus-associated HNCA, a larger number of patients are expected to survive their cancer, and therefore will be more susceptible to long-term treatment toxicities. Optimization of long-term swallowing outcomes is an important objective for those working with patients with HNCA.The role of the swallowing therapist in the management of patients with HNCA cannot be overstated. This begins with pretreatment evaluation of swallowing. At the time of initial assessment, education should be provided regarding treatment toxicities and the importance of prophylactic swallowing exercises and oral intake. Recent evidence suggests that maintaining an oral diet and engaging in swallowing exercise during radiation have a positive impact on diet level, swallowing physiology, patient-perceived swallowing-related quality of life, and reduced feeding tube use. Although treatment strategies such as radiation de-intensification and transoral surgical treatments show promise for reducing toxicities, evidence regarding their impact is still being amassed.Maintaining an oral diet and performing prophylactic swallowing exercises are currently the most evidence-based strategies for dysphagia prevention in HNCA.

    View details for DOI 10.1097/MOO.0000000000000044

    View details for Web of Science ID 000335959200005

    View details for PubMedID 24614062

  • Dysphagia, Short-Term Outcomes, and Cost of Care After Anterior Cervical Disc Surgery DYSPHAGIA Starmer, H. M., Riley, L. H., Hillel, A. T., Akst, L. M., Best, S. R., Gourin, C. G. 2014; 29 (1): 68-77

    Abstract

    Dysphonia and dysphagia are common complications of anterior cervical discectomy (ACD). We sought to determine the relationship between dysphagia and in-hospital mortality, complications, speech therapy/dysphagia training, length of hospitalization, and costs associated with ACD. Discharge data from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample for 1,649,871 patients who underwent ACD of fewer than four vertebrae for benign acquired disease between 2001 and 2010 were analyzed using cross-tabulations and multivariate regression modeling. Dysphagia was reported in 32,922 cases (2.0 %). Speech therapy/dysphagia training was reported in less than 0.1 % of all cases and in only 0.2 % of patients with dysphagia. Dysphagia was significantly associated with age ≥65 years (OR = 1.5 [95 % CI 1.4-1.7], P < 0.001), advanced comorbidity (OR = 2.3 [2.0-2.6], P < 0.001), revision surgery (OR = 2.7 [2.3-3.1], P < 0.001), disc prosthesis placement (OR = 1.5 [1.0-2.0], P = 0.029), and vocal cord paralysis (OR = 11.6 [8.3-16.1], P < 0.001). Dysphagia was a significant predictor of aspiration pneumonia (OR = 8.6 [6.7-10.9], P < 0.001), tracheostomy (OR = 2.3 [1.6-3.3], P < 0.001), gastrostomy (OR = 30.9 [25.3-37.8], P < 0.001), and speech therapy/dysphagia training (OR = 32.0 [15.4-66.4], P < 0.001). Aspiration pneumonia was significantly associated with in-hospital mortality (OR = 15.9 [11.0-23.1], P < 0.001). Dysphagia, vocal cord paralysis, and aspiration pneumonia were significant predictors of increased length of hospitalization and hospital-related costs, with aspiration pneumonia having the single largest impact on length of hospitalization and costs. Dysphagia is significantly associated with increased morbidity, length of hospitalization, and hospital-related costs in ACD patients. Despite the known risk of dysphagia in ACD patients and an established role for the speech-language pathologist in dysphagia management, speech-language pathology intervention appears underutilized in this population.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s00455-013-9482-9

    View details for Web of Science ID 000334125400009

    View details for PubMedID 23943072

  • Attendance in Voice Therapy: Can an Interdisciplinary Care Model Have an Impact? ANNALS OF OTOLOGY RHINOLOGY AND LARYNGOLOGY Starmer, H. M., Liu, Z., Akst, L. M., Gourin, C. 2014; 123 (2): 117-123

    Abstract

    We sought to determine the effect of referral patterns on attendance in voice therapy.Patients who were seen by a laryngologist for vocal concerns and referred for voice therapy comprised the study population. Outcomes were compared between those who were initially evaluated through the interdisciplinary voice clinic (IDC), which combined speech-language pathology and laryngology care, and those who were evaluated by a laryngologist alone. Adherence was measured by completion of the plan of care.There were 79 patients evaluated through the IDC and 100 patients evaluated initially by a laryngologist. Patients evaluated through the IDC had more visits with the speech-language pathologist (mean, 3.1 versus 1.24; p < 0.0001). Those initially evaluated through the IDC were more likely to complete their plan of care (p = 0.02). Completion of voice therapy was significantly more likely for individuals coded as being of "other" race (odds ratio, 7.98; p = 0.002) and for patients who participated in the IDC (odds ratio, 2.56; p = 0.018). The cause of dysphonia, sex, marital status, insurance status, days from laryngology referral to the initial speech-language pathologist consultation, the initial Voice-Related Quality of Life score, and distance to the clinic were not associated with patient attendance.Patients evaluated in a coordinated IDC should be more likely to attend voice therapy and complete their plan of care, regardless of other factors.

    View details for DOI 10.1177/0003489414523708

    View details for Web of Science ID 000331923600006

    View details for PubMedID 24574467

  • Patient-Perceived Long-Term Communication and Swallow Function Following Cerebellopontine Angle Surgery LARYNGOSCOPE Starmer, H. M., Ward, B. K., Best, S. R., Gourin, C. G., Akst, L. M., Hillel, A., Brem, H., Francis, H. W. 2014; 124 (2): 476-480

    Abstract

    Evaluation of long-term patient-perceived functional outcomes and quality of life (QOL) related to communication and eating with an emphasis on voice, speech production, and swallowing after cerebello-pontine angle (CPA) surgery.Prospective cross-sectional study.The MD Anderson Dysphagia Inventory (MDADI), Voice Handicap Index (VHI), and Facial Clinimetric Evaluation (FaCE) surveys were distributed to patients who underwent CPA surgery between January 2008 and December 2010. Immediate postoperative cranial nerve function extracted from medical records was compared to long-term patient-perceived function and associated QOL.There was a 61% response rate with a mean postoperative period of 31.6 months (range 15-49). The presence of facial palsy in the postoperative period and the corresponding House-Brackmann (H-B) score were the strongest predictors of patient-perceived long-term function and QOL in all three domains (P < .005). Postoperative vagal palsy by comparison was not associated with long-term disturbance of voice or speech function. Postoperative dysphagia had a particularly large association with perceived long-term facial function and related QOL (P < .0005), with a smaller but significant impact on perceived swallow outcome (P < .05). After adjusting for other variables, the postoperative H-B score remained a significant predictor of perceived long-term facial and voice function and related QOL.Patients with severe facial dysfunction following surgery to the CPA are at increased risk for long-term self-reported difficulties with communication and eating, even with improvement of vagal function. Speech and swallow therapy should therefore be provided to these patients whether or not they also have pharyngeal dysphagia or voice disturbance.2b.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/lary.24252

    View details for Web of Science ID 000329929900032

    View details for PubMedID 23775221

  • Short- and long-term outcomes of laryngeal cancer care in the elderly. The Laryngoscope Gourin, C. G., Starmer, H. M., Herbert, R. J., Frick, K. D., Forastiere, A. A., Eisele, D. W., Quon, H. 2014

    Abstract

    To examine associations between pretreatment variables, short-term and long-term swallowing and airway impairment, and survival in elderly patients treated for laryngeal squamous cell cancer (SCCA).Retrospective analysis of Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results-Medicare data.Longitudinal data from 2,370 patients diagnosed with laryngeal SCCA from 2004 to 2007 were evaluated using cross-tabulations, multivariate logistic regression, and survival analysis.Dysphagia (odds ratio [OR] = 1.5 [1.2-1.7]), weight loss (OR = 1.3 [1.1-1.6]), esophageal stricture (OR = 3.8 [2.5-5.9]), airway obstruction (OR = 1.9, [1.6-2.3]), tracheostomy (OR = 1.5 [1.2-1.9]), and pneumonia (OR = 1.8 [1.4-2.2]) increased 1 year after treatment. The odds of airway obstruction, esophageal stricture, and pneumonia increased over subsequent years, with significantly increased risk at 5 years for airway obstruction (OR = 3.3 [1.8-5.8]) and pneumonia (OR = 5.2 [2.5-10.7]). Pretreatment dysphagia, chemoradiation, and salvage surgery were significant predictors of long-term dysphagia, weight loss, tracheostomy, and gastrostomy, with pretreatment dysphagia and salvage surgery also associated with pneumonia. Surgery and postoperative radiation was associated with long-term dysphagia (OR = 1.4 [1.0-1.9]) but reduced odds of long-term pneumonia (OR = 0.7 [0.5-0.9]). Long-term dysphagia, gastrostomy or tracheostomy dependence, weight loss, airway obstruction, and pneumonia were associated with poorer survival, with pneumonia associated with the greatest risk of death at 5 years (hazard ratio = 2.6 [2.4-2.9]).Airway and swallowing impairment is common after laryngeal SCCA treatment in elderly patients, increases over time, and is associated with poorer survival-with pneumonia associated with the highest risk of long-term mortality. Patients with pretreatment dysphagia, initial treatment with chemoradiation, and salvage surgery represent a high-risk group with an increased risk of disability and death.2c. Laryngoscope, 2014.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/lary.25012

    View details for PubMedID 25367258

  • Radiation dose to the floor of mouth muscles predicts swallowing complications following chemoradiation in oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma ORAL ONCOLOGY Kumar, R., Madanikia, S., Starmer, H., Yang, W., Murano, E., Alcorn, S., McNutt, T., Le, Y., Quon, H. 2014; 50 (1): 65-70

    Abstract

    While radiation dose to the larynx and pharyngeal constrictors has been the focus of swallowing complications, the suprahyoid muscles, or floor of mouth (FoM) muscles, are critical for hyoid and laryngeal elevation and effective bolus diversion, preventing penetration and aspiration. We hypothesize that radiation dose to these muscles may be important in the development of dysphagia.We studied 46 patients with OPSCC treated with CRT and who underwent baseline swallowing evaluations and post-treatment videofluoroscopic swallowing studies (VFSS) from 2007 to 2010. Patients with abnormal penetration aspiration scores (PAS>2) served as the study population and patients with normal PAS scores (≤ 2) served as the control cohort. Three suprahyoid muscles and two extrinsic tongue muscles were individually delineated and collectively referred to as the FoM muscles. Radiation dose-volume relationships for these muscles were calculated. Univariate logistic regression analysis was used to determine parameters of significance between patients with normal or abnormal PAS scores. A multivariate regression analysis was subsequently performed to isolate the most statistically critical structures associated with abnormal PAS.Univariate analysis resulted in significance/borderline significance of multiple structures associated with abnormal PAS following irradiation. However, when a multivariate model was applied, only the mean dose to the floor of mouth and minimum dose to the geniohyoid were associated with post-radiation abnormal PAS.The dose and volume delivered to the collective FoM muscles may be associated with an increased risk of laryngeal penetration/aspiration to a greater degree than previously recognized organs at risk.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.oraloncology.2013.10.002

    View details for Web of Science ID 000328734600013

    View details for PubMedID 24238851

  • Feasibility of rapid discharge after transoral robotic surgery of the oropharynx. The Laryngoscope Richmon, J. D., Feng, A. L., Yang, W., Starmer, H., Quon, H., Gourin, C. G. 2014; 124 (11): 2518–25

    Abstract

    To investigate the use of an algorithm for rapid discharge after transoral robotic surgery (TORS) and its effect on postoperative complications.Retrospective cohort study.A retrospective analysis of TORS cases from September 2009 to February 2013 was conducted. The effect of patient and tumor characteristics on postoperative length of stay (LOS) and complications were analyzed.A total of 91 patients were included; 79 underwent TORS for malignancy and 12 for a benign process. The mean LOS was 1.51 days (range, 1-5 days) with a median of 1 day. The mean time to initiation of oral diet was 1.26 days (range, 1-7 days) with a median of 1 day. Eleven (12%) patients experienced one or more complications during their postoperative course. Multivariate analysis demonstrated a significant association between patient and procedure variables and postoperative complications. TORS base of tongue reduction for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) was associated with a significantly greater mean incremental time to initiation of oral diet (1.0 days, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.4 to 1.7, P < .001). A significantly greater mean incremental LOS was observed for patients with advanced comorbidity and a delay in initiation of oral diet beyond 24 hours.Rapid initiation of oral diet and rapid discharge home is feasible and not associated with postoperative complications. Similarly, the performance of a concurrent neck dissection does not contribute to LOS or the development of postoperative complications. Patients undergoing TORS for OSA are at greater risk of delay in initiation of oral diet and increased LOS.4 Laryngoscope, 124:2518-2525, 2014.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/lary.24748

    View details for PubMedID 24932480

  • Swallowing outcomes in patients with oropharyngeal cancer undergoing organ-preservation treatment. Head & neck Starmer, H. M., Tippett, D., Webster, K., Quon, H., Jones, B., Hardy, S., Gourin, C. G. 2014; 36 (10): 1392–97

    Abstract

    The purpose of this study was to assess swallowing outcomes in a cohort of patients with oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) undergoing nonoperative treatment.We conducted a retrospective study of patients who completed videofluoroscopic swallowing studies (VFSS) after nonoperative treatment of oropharyngeal SCC. All patients received intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) ± chemotherapy. Swallowing abnormalities were recorded and the Penetration Aspiration Scale (PAS) quantified airway infiltration.Posttreatment VFSS (n = 71) occurred at an average of 4.69 months posttreatment. Abnormal PAS was noted in 45% of swallow studies. Swallowing decompensations included reduced pharyngeal constriction (75%), epiglottic tilt (70%), cricopharyngeal opening (42%), and hyoid excursion (42%). The only variable independently associated with abnormal PAS was pretreatment swallowing difficulty (odds ratio [OR] = 4.02; p = .009).This study demonstrates that patients undergoing nonsurgical treatment for oropharyngeal SCC are at risk for posttreatment dysphagia. This suggests a need for dysphagia evaluation/management and refinement of interventions to minimize dysphagia.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/hed.23465

    View details for PubMedID 24038454

  • The Use of Low-Osmolar Water-Soluble Contrast in Videofluoroscopic Swallowing Exams DYSPHAGIA Harris, J. A., Bartelt, D., Campion, M., Gayler, B. W., Jones, B., Hayes, A., Haynos, J., Herbick, S., Kling, T., Lingaraj, A., Singer, M., Starmer, H., Smith, C., Webster, K. 2013; 28 (4): 520-527

    Abstract

    The selection of the contrast agent used during fluoroscopic exams is an important clinical decision. The purpose of this article is to document the usage of a nonionic, water-soluble contrast (iohexol) and barium contrast in adult patients undergoing fluoroscopic exams of the pharynx and/or esophagus and provide clinical indications for the use of each. For 1 year, data were collected on the use of iohexol and barium during fluoroscopic exams. The contrast agent used was selected by the speech language pathologist (SLP) or the radiologist based on the exam's indications. A total of 1,978 fluoroscopic exams were completed in the 12-month period of documentation. Of these exams, 60.6 % were completed for medical reasons and 39.4 % for surgical reasons. Fifty-five percent of the exams were performed jointly by a SLP and a radiologist and 45 % were performed by a radiologist alone. Aspiration was present in 22 % of the exams, vestibular penetration occurred in 38 %, extraluminal leakage of contrast was observed in 4.6 %, and both aspiration and leakage were seen in 1 % of the exams. In cases with aspiration, iohexol was used alone in 8 %, iohexol and barium were both used in 45 %, and barium was used alone in 47 %. In cases with extraluminal leakage, iohexol was used alone in 58 %, iohexol and barium were both used in 31 %, and barium was used alone in 11 %. No adverse effects were seen with the use of iohexol. When barium was used in cases of aspiration and extraluminal leakage, the amount of aspirated barium was small and the extraluminal barium in the instances of leakage was small. Iohexol is a useful screening contrast agent and can safely provide information, and its use reduces the risk of aspiration and the chance of leakage of large amounts of barium.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s00455-013-9462-0

    View details for Web of Science ID 000328217900006

    View details for PubMedID 23529533

  • Is speech language pathologist evaluation necessary in the nonoperative treatment of head and neck cancer? LARYNGOSCOPE Starmer, H. M., Gourin, C. G. 2013; 123 (7): 1571-1572

    View details for DOI 10.1002/lary.23692

    View details for Web of Science ID 000320784300001

    View details for PubMedID 23737324

  • National prevalence and impact of perioperative vagus nerve injury in vestibular schwannoma LARYNGOSCOPE Ward, B. K., Francis, H. W., Best, S. R., Starmer, H. M., Akst, L. M., Gourin, C. G. 2012; 122 (12): 2824-2831

    Abstract

    Lower cranial nerve injury may be an under-reported complication of vestibular schwannoma surgery. This study aims to characterize the prevalence of complications associated with vagus nerve injury following vestibular schwannoma surgery and the impact of these complications on patient care.Retrospective cross-sectional study.Discharge data from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample for 17,281 patients with vestibular schwannoma who underwent surgery in 2003-2008 were analyzed using cross-tabulations and multivariate regression modeling.Dysphagia was reported in 443 cases (2.6%) and unilateral vocal fold paralysis in 115 cases (0.7%). The mean length of hospitalization was 5.3 days (95% confidence interval [CI], 4.9-5.7) and was prolonged in patients with dysphagia (mean, 11.7 days; 95% CI, 8.9-14.4) and in those with unilateral vocal fold paralysis (mean, 12.1 days; 95% CI, 7.3-16.9). Compared to patients without dysphagia, a diagnosis of dysphagia was associated with advanced comorbidity status (37.0% vs. 18.8%), central nervous system complications (39.3% vs. 15.3%), aspiration pneumonia (7.1% vs. 0.4%), and greater likelihood of requiring medical care at another facility or at home after discharge (48.5% vs. 6.6%, P < .001). Tracheostomy (3.4% vs. 0.8%) and gastrostomy tube placement (20.9% vs. 0.5%) were significantly more likely in patients with dysphagia (P < .0001). After adjusting for other variables, dysphagia, aspiration pneumonia, and tracheostomy were significantly associated with increased length of hospitalization and hospital-related costs.Although infrequently reported in this national inpatient sample, vagus nerve injury-related symptoms are associated with significantly increased length of hospitalization and costs of care.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/lary.23605

    View details for Web of Science ID 000312540000036

    View details for PubMedID 22893589

  • The effect of pneumonia on short-term outcomes and cost of care after head and neck cancer surgery LARYNGOSCOPE Semenov, Y. R., Starmer, H. M., Gourin, C. G. 2012; 122 (9): 1994-2004

    Abstract

    The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has threatened to discontinue reimbursements for ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) as a preventable "never event." We sought to determine the relationship between pneumonia and in-hospital mortality, complications, length of hospitalization and costs in head and neck cancer (HNCA) surgery.Retrospective cross-sectional study.Discharge data from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample for 93,663 patients who underwent an ablative procedure for a malignant oral cavity, laryngeal, hypopharyngeal, or oropharyngeal neoplasm from 2003 to 2008 were analyzed using cross-tabulations and multivariate regression modeling.VAP was rarely coded. Infectious pneumonia was significantly associated with chronic pulmonary disease (odds ratio [OR], 1.5; P < .001), while aspiration pneumonia was associated with dysphagia (OR, 2.0; P < .001). Pneumonia from any cause was associated with weight loss (OR, 3.3; P < .001), age >80 years (OR, 2.0; P = .007), comorbidity (OR, 2.3; P < .001), and major procedures (OR, 1.6; P < .001), with increased in-hospital mortality for infectious (OR, 2.9; P < .001) and aspiration pneumonia (OR, 5.3; P < .001). Both infectious and aspiration pneumonia were associated with postoperative medical and surgical complications, increased length of hospitalization, and hospital-related costs.Postoperative pneumonia is associated with increased mortality, complications, length of hospitalization, and hospital-related costs in HNCA surgical patients. Variables associated with an increased risk of pneumonia are inherent comorbidities in HNCA and known risk factors for VAP, making this a high-risk group for this never event. Caution must be used in the institution of reforms that threaten to inadequately reimburse the provision of care to this vulnerable population. Aggressive preoperative identification and treatment of underlying pulmonary disease, weight loss, and dysphagia may reduce morbidity and mortality.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/lary.23446

    View details for Web of Science ID 000307962900019

    View details for PubMedID 22777881

  • Risk Factors for Vagal Palsy following Cerebellopontine Angle Surgery OTOLARYNGOLOGY-HEAD AND NECK SURGERY Best, S. R., Starmer, H. M., Agrawal, Y., Ward, B. K., Hillel, A. T., Chien, W. W., Francis, H. W., Tamargo, R. J., Akst, L. M. 2012; 147 (2): 364-368

    Abstract

    Describe the incidence, risk factors, and outcomes of postoperative vagal palsy in patients undergoing surgical excision of cerebellopontine angle (CPA) tumors.Case series with chart review.Academic tertiary care center.One hundred eighty-one consecutive patients undergoing surgical excision of CPA pathology from January 1, 2008, to December 31, 2010, at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Postoperative unilateral vagal palsy was identified by laryngoscopy or videofluoroscopy, and clinical variables were collected from medical records.Postoperative unilateral vagal palsy was identified in 19 of 181 (10%) patients. Vocal fold motion impairment (VFMI) in combination with pharyngeal palsy was more common than VFMI or pharyngeal palsy alone. Those with vagal palsy had a larger mean tumor size (30 mm) than those without vagal palsy (20 mm, P = .0002) and a significantly longer mean hospital stay (9 vs 5 days, P < .0001). Vagal palsy was not associated with tumor pathology, prior treatment (stereotactic radiation or prior surgery), or surgical approach (suboccipital craniotomy vs translabyrinthine approach). Significant rates of aspiration were observed in patients with vagal palsy (67%).Voice and swallowing function can be affected by surgical excision of pathology of the CPA. Tumor size is an independent risk factor for postoperative vagal palsy, which in turn has important consequences for prolonged hospital stay, aspiration, and voice and swallowing impairment.

    View details for DOI 10.1177/0194599812442042

    View details for Web of Science ID 000314273200031

    View details for PubMedID 22447891

  • The relationship between depressive symptoms, quality of life, and swallowing function in head and neck cancer patients 1 year after definitive therapy LARYNGOSCOPE Lin, B. M., Starmer, H. M., Gourin, C. G. 2012; 122 (7): 1518-1525

    Abstract

    To determine the incidence of depression in head and neck cancer (HNCA) patients following definitive treatment and the relationship between depression and head and neck-specific measures of quality of life and function.Prospective cohort analysis.Two hundred forty-six patients were evaluated with the Beck Depression Inventory Fast-Screen (BDI-FS), University of Washington Quality of Life (UW QOL), Voice Handicap Index (VHI), and MD Anderson Dysphagia Inventory (MDADI) questionnaires. Patients with a preexisting diagnosis of depression were excluded.Complete 1-year post-treatment data were available for 46 HNCA patients, with depression identified in nine patients (20%). On multivariate analysis, depression was significantly associated with poorer global UW QOL (β = -40.3, P < .001) and overall MDADI scores (β = -21.8, P = .038), but not with VHI scores, after controlling for other clinical variables including initial treatment modality. BDI-FS scores were significantly correlated with global UW QOL (r = -0.7, P < .001) and overall MDADI scores (r = -0.5, P = .0045), and global UW QOL correlated significantly with overall MDADI scores (r = 0.4, P = .0166). After controlling for clinical variables, MDADI, and VHI scores, only depression was associated with global UW QOL score (β = -30.5, P = .019).There is a high incidence of depressive symptoms in HNCA patients at 1 year following definitive therapy, which is independent of primary treatment modality and is associated with poorer global QOL and MDADI scores. Although depression and swallowing function are highly correlated, depression has a greater effect on QOL than swallowing scores, suggesting that early identification and aggressive treatment of patients with depressive symptoms is warranted to maximize post-treatment QOL.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/lary.23312

    View details for Web of Science ID 000305577400017

    View details for PubMedID 22467530

  • Prevalence, Characteristics, and Management of Swallowing Disorders following Cerebellopontine Angle Surgery 115th AAO-HNSF Annual Meeting and OTO EXPO Starmer, H. M., Best, S. R., Agrawal, Y., Chien, W. W., Hillel, A. T., Francis, H. W., Tamargo, R. J., Akst, L. M. SAGE PUBLICATIONS LTD. 2012: 419–25

    Abstract

    To describe swallowing disorders encountered after cerebellopontine angle surgery and to explore variables associated with increased incidence of postoperative dysphagia.Case series with chart review.Single academic medical institution.Chart review of 181 consecutive patients undergoing surgical excision of cerebellopontine angle pathology from January 2008 to December 2010 at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. Presence and characteristics of dysphagia were determined by review of speech pathologist reports. Other clinical variables were extracted from the electronic medical record, and statistical analyses were applied to determine factors associated with postoperative dysphagia.Immediate postoperative dysphagia was identified in 57 of 181 patients (31%). Oral, oropharyngeal, and pharyngeal deficits accounted for 51%, 37%, and 12% of dysphagic symptoms, respectively. Facial nerve weakness in the immediate postoperative period was noted in 91% of dysphagic subjects compared with 43% of those without. Mean House-Brackmann score for dysphagic individuals was 4 compared with 2 in the nondysphagic group. Diet alterations were required for 65% of dysphagic individuals, and an additional 9% required tube feeding. Common findings during videofluoroscopic swallowing studies were pharyngeal residue, reduced pharyngeal constriction, and anterior bolus loss. Abnormal penetration-aspiration scores (≥3) were found in 59% of those undergoing videofluoroscopic swallow studies.Oral and pharyngeal swallowing deficits are commonly encountered after cerebellopontine angle surgery. Consultation with the speech-language pathologist appears most critical for any individuals demonstrating postoperative cranial nerve dysfunction, particularly for those with evidence of facial nerve weakness. Early consultation may help to manage short- and long-term functional difficulties.

    View details for DOI 10.1177/0194599811429259

    View details for Web of Science ID 000303545100015

    View details for PubMedID 22101096

  • Multidisciplinary Head and Neck Cancer Clinic and Adherence with Speech Pathology LARYNGOSCOPE Starmer, H., Sanguineti, G., Marur, S., Gourin, C. G. 2011; 121 (10): 2131-2135

    Abstract

    To determine the effect of referral patterns on compliance with speech-language pathology (SLP) treatment of voice and swallowing difficulties in patients with head and neck cancer (HNCA).Retrospective cohort study.Patients with newly diagnosed oropharyngeal HNCA referred for pretreatment SLP evaluation comprised the study population. Compliance was measured by participation in SLP therapy during and after head and neck treatment, as well as by the number of missed and completed visits. Outcomes were compared between patients who were initially evaluated through the multidisciplinary clinic and those evaluated outside of the multidisciplinary clinic format.The final study sample included 118 individuals with oropharyngeal tumors. All patients were treated with primary radiotherapy with or without chemotherapy. Patients evaluated initially through the multidisciplinary clinic had more SLP visits than those who did not participate in the multidisciplinary clinic (mean = 1.8 vs. 0.2, P <.0001). Participation in SLP treatment was significantly greater for patients ≥ 60 years of age (odds ratio [OR] = 2.4, P =.032) and for patients who participated in the multidisciplinary clinic (OR = 19.3, P <.0001). Tumor stage, sex, race, marital status, and insurance status were not associated with patient compliance. Multivariate analysis revealed that participation in a multidisciplinary clinic was the only significant variable associated with SLP treatment compliance (OR = 12.9, P <.0001), after controlling for all other variables.Patients evaluated in a multidisciplinary clinic are more likely to comply with SLP treatment recommendations.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/lary.21746

    View details for Web of Science ID 000295228800015

    View details for PubMedID 21826674

  • The Relationship Between Depressive Symptoms and Initial Quality of Life and Function in Head and Neck Cancer LARYNGOSCOPE Chan, J. Y., Lua, L. L., Starmer, H. H., Sun, D. Q., Rosenblatt, E. S., Gourin, C. G. 2011; 121 (6): 1212-1218

    Abstract

    To determine the incidence of depression in head and neck cancer (HNCA) patients and the effect of depression on baseline head- and neck-specific measures of quality of life and function.Prospective cohort analysis.A total of 255 patients were prospectively evaluated using the Beck Depression Inventory Fast-Screen (BDI-FS) survey, University of Washington Quality of Life (UW QOL), Voice Handicap Index (VHI), and MD Anderson Dysphagia Inventory (MDADI) questionnaires. Patients with a preexisting diagnosis of depression were excluded.Complete data were available for 77 patients with HNCA and 53 controls. Depressive symptoms were identified in 9% of controls and 19% of HNCA patients, and were significantly associated with a HNCA diagnosis (OR = 4.1, P = .044). Among patients with HNCA, depression was significantly more common in black patients (OR = 15.8, P = .017). A significant negative correlation was found between BDI-FS score and UW global QOL score (r = -0.4, P = .0019). Depression was significantly associated with poorer UW global QOL (β = -22.46, P = .0004), recreation (β = -13.77, P = .037), speech (β = -24.05, P = .004), and MDADI functional (β = -17.31, P = .009), physical (β = -14.99, P = .032), and emotional (β = -11.60, P = .049) domain scores but not with other UW QOL or VHI domains, after controlling for all other variables.Patients with HNCA have a high incidence of depressive symptoms at diagnosis, which is significantly higher in black patients, and is associated with poorer QOL and MDADI scores. Pretreatment depression may serve as a marker for patients with increased risk of swallowing impairment and reduced QOL who would benefit from targeted intervention.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/lary.21788

    View details for Web of Science ID 000291259900015

    View details for PubMedID 21541945

  • Pretreatment Swallowing Assessment in Head and Neck Cancer Patients LARYNGOSCOPE Starmer, H. H., Gourin, C. G., Lua, L. L., Burkhead, L. 2011; 121 (6): 1208-1211

    Abstract

    To discuss patient variables associated with swallowing dysfunction in head and neck cancer (HNCA) patients prior to intervention.Prospective, multi-institutional cohort study.All patients included had newly diagnosed head and neck malignancies. Patients undergoing instrumental swallowing evaluations prior to oncologic management were included for analysis. Pretreatment Penetration Aspiration Scores (PAS) were analyzed by primary tumor site, tumor stage, and standard demographic variables.The final study sample was comprised of 204 consecutive individuals with newly diagnosed HNCA. Patients with advanced primary tumor (T) stage laryngeal/hypopharyngeal tumors had higher mean PAS scores (5.18) in contrast to early stage larynx/hypopharynx (1.93), advanced stage oral cavity/oropharynx (2.24), and early stage oral cavity/oropharynx (1.54, P < .0001), indicative of poorer function. Age, race, and sex were not associated with PAS scores. Multivariate logistic regression revealed significantly poorer PAS scores in patients with advanced primary tumors (odds ration [OR] = 3.83, 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.84-8.00, P < .0001) and laryngeal/hypopharyngeal primary site disease (OR = 3.04, 95% CI, 1.41-6.54, P = .004), after controlling for all other variables.This series demonstrates that swallowing dysfunction in high-risk patients may be present in the pretreatment state and should be considered when determining candidacy for organ preservation modalities. These data highlight the importance of instrumental swallowing evaluations prior to intervention, particularly for those individuals with advanced stage and/or laryngeal/hypopharyngeal tumors.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/lary.21800

    View details for Web of Science ID 000291259900014

    View details for PubMedID 21484812

  • Does Prosthesis Diameter Matter? The Relationship Between Voice Prosthesis Diameter and Complications Annual Meeting of the American-Academy-of-Otolaryngology-Head-and-Neck-Surgery-Foundation and OTO EXPO Starmer, H. M., Agrawal, N., Koch, W., Richmon, J., Webster, K., Gourin, C. G. SAGE PUBLICATIONS LTD. 2011: 740–46

    Abstract

    To assess the impact of tracheoesophageal voice prosthesis diameter and treatment status on prosthesis-related complications.Historical cohort study.Single academic medical institution.Patients who underwent total laryngectomy (TL) between 1996 and 2008 were divided into 2 subgroups according to prosthesis diameter: 16F (n = 19) and 20/22F (n = 71). Each patient only used 1 diameter of prosthesis. Time to leakage through the prosthesis, number of episodes of leakage around the prosthesis, number of prosthesis dislodgements, and length changes after the first 6 months were chosen as outcomes of interest.Analysis included 90 patients. Analysis of selected complications by prosthesis diameter revealed no significant differences for time to leakage through the prosthesis, number of leaks around the prosthesis, or dislodgement. Larger diameter prosthesis use was associated with a greater number of length changes (P = .008). Multivariable regression analysis did not find any significant association between prosthesis-specific complications and prosthesis diameter when controlling for other variables. Prior radiation was associated with an increased number of size changes (β = 2.0, P = .004) and a decrease in time to leakage through the prosthesis (β = -4.4, P = .048), after controlling for other variables.Prosthesis diameter is not associated with an increased prevalence of certain voice prosthesis complications in laryngectomy patients, regardless of initial treatment modality, whereas prior radiation or chemoradiation is associated with complications. These data suggest that factors affecting tissue health, rather than prosthesis size, may be more responsible for prosthesis complications.

    View details for DOI 10.1177/0194599810395362

    View details for Web of Science ID 000293998600013

    View details for PubMedID 21493364

  • VOLUMETRIC CHANGE OF SELECTED ORGANS AT RISK DURING IMRT FOR OROPHARYNGEAL CANCER INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF RADIATION ONCOLOGY BIOLOGY PHYSICS Ricchetti, F., Wu, B., McNutt, T., Wong, J., Forastiere, A., Marur, S., Starmer, H., Sanguineti, G. 2011; 80 (1): 161-168

    Abstract

    To assess volumetric changes of selected organs at risk (OAR) during intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) for oropharyngeal carcinoma.Twenty-six consecutive patients that were treated with definitive IMRT ± chemotherapy between November 2007 and November 2008 were selected for the present study. As part of an internal quality assurances program, a repeat kilovolt (KV) computed tomography was planned weekly during the 7-week treatment course. On each available scan, a single observer contoured the parotid submandibular, and thyroid glands (PG/SMG/TG), larynx (L), and constrictor, masticatory, and sternocleidomastoid muscles (CM/MM/SCM) as appropriate. The volume at each scan was compared with the one at planning CT in a pair-wise fashion. p values <0.05 after correction for multiple testing were considered significant.A total of 159 scans was obtained during treatment for a total of 185 scans, including the baseline imaging. All OARs showed statistically significant changes over baseline by week 5. At week 7, the PG showed the largest absolute change with an average reduction of ∼10 mL followed by both the SCM and MM (∼-5 mL). The largest (∼-30%) relative change was observed for the salivary glands. L and CM showed a ∼15% increase in volume during treatment.All selected OAR undergo significant volumetric changes during a course of IMRT for oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2010.01.071

    View details for Web of Science ID 000290006300024

    View details for PubMedID 21306971

  • Inhaled Triamcinolone With Proton Pump Inhibitor for Treatment of Vocal Process Granulomas: A Series of 67 Granulomas 89th Annual Meeting of the American-Broncho-Esophagological-Association Hillel, A. T., Lin, L., Samlan, R., Starmer, H., Leahy, K., Flint, P. W. ANNALS PUBL CO. 2010: 325–30

    Abstract

    We sought to analyze the outcomes of vocal process granulomas treated with proton pump inhibitors and inhaled triamcinolone acetonide.We reviewed the medical records of patients with a diagnosis of contact granuloma or vocal process granuloma between 1995 and 2008. Data included age, gender, intubation history, reflux history, lesion location, previous treatment methods, treatment course, and recurrence. All patients were treated with daily or twice-daily protein pump inhibitors and inhaled triamcinolone acetonide (300 microg 3 times a day).Sixty-seven granulomas were diagnosed in 54 patients: 13 bilateral and 41 unilateral. Twenty patients, including all 11 women, had a recent history of intubation. Sixty-two granulomas in 50 patients were treated with triamcinolone and a proton pump inhibitor. Of the 57 granulomas that completed treatment, 5 (9%) did not respond (mean follow-up, 50 weeks; range, 30.3 to 78.3 weeks), 13 (22%) partially responded (mean follow-up, 11 weeks; range, 3 to 30 weeks), and 40 (69%) completely responded (mean follow-up, 21 weeks; range, 5.9 to 84.6 weeks). Three cases had recurrence: 2 nonresponders and 1 complete responder. One patient developed oral thrush.In this study, vocal process granulomas occurred more frequently in men, whereas women developed granulomas only after intubation. The anti-inflammatory action of inhaled triamcinolone combined with antireflux proton pump inhibitors successfully treats most vocal process granulomas with low rates of side effects and recurrence.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000277892700009

    View details for PubMedID 20524578

  • Complications That Affect Postlaryngectomy Voice Restoration Primary Surgery vs Salvage Surgery ARCHIVES OF OTOLARYNGOLOGY-HEAD & NECK SURGERY Starmer, H. M., Ishman, S. L., Flint, P. W., Bhatti, N. I., Richmon, J., Koch, W., Webster, K., Tufano, R., Gourin, C. G. 2009; 135 (11): 1165-1169

    Abstract

    To assess the effect of primary treatment on tracheoesophageal voice prosthesis (TEP) complications.Retrospective cohort study.The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, Maryland.Patients who underwent total laryngectomy and TEP between January 1, 1998, and December 31, 2008, were divided into 3 subgroups according to primary treatment: surgery (n = 81), radiotherapy (n = 61), and chemoradiotherapy (n = 32).Number of weeks before leakage through the TEP, occurrence of leakage around the TEP, TEP dislodgement, and size changes 6 months or longer after laryngectomy.A total of 174 patients met the study criteria. Of the 81 patients who underwent primary surgery, 81% (n = 66) underwent adjuvant therapy with postoperative radiotherapy or chemoradiotherapy. The incidence of leakage around the prosthesis, prosthesis dislodgement, and size changes 6 months or longer after laryngectomy were significantly higher for patients who required salvage total laryngectomy after chemoradiotherapy or radiotherapy (P < .05). In addition, significantly more patients who underwent salvage total laryngectomy required extended laryngectomy or free tissue reconstruction.Voice prosthesis complications are more frequently encountered in those who require salvage laryngectomy. Understanding the potential for such complications reinforces the need for close communication and follow-up with these patients by the speech language pathologist.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000271860900019

    View details for PubMedID 19917932

  • Effects of laryngeal cancer on voice and swallowing OTOLARYNGOLOGIC CLINICS OF NORTH AMERICA Starmer, H. M., Tippett, D. C., Webster, K. T. 2008; 41 (4): 793-?

    Abstract

    Specific deficits that may be encountered as well as interventional strategies and evidence-based practice are discussed. When discussing the voice, it is important to consider that for many people the voice is not just a tool for communication, but also an identifying feature that allows expression of personality. Eating and swallowing are vital to life sustenance and also allow for a myriad of social interactions. Laryngeal cancer can have a dramatic impact on this delicately balanced system leading to disturbances of voice and swallowing.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.otc.2008.01.018

    View details for Web of Science ID 000257792700011

    View details for PubMedID 18570960