The purpose of this study was to assess the postoperative functioning of oral cancer patients with resections of the anterior tongue and floor of mouth, reconstructed with distal flap closure. Speech and swallowing performance was assessed for 11 men and 5 women preoperatively and at 1 and 3 months postoperatively following a standardized protocol. Speech tasks included an audio recording of a brief conversation and of a standard articulation test; swallowing function was examined using video-fluoroscopy. Data were also collected on the number and duration of speech/swallowing treatment sessions, as well as the amount and duration of radiation therapy. Statistical analyses revealed that patients demonstrated a significant and severe impairment in speech and swallow functioning after surgery, with no recovery of function by 3 months post-healing. The degree of impairment in these patients may be related to the adynamic character of the distal flap used for reconstruction. Lack of improvement at the 3-month evaluation may be related to either the timing of postoperative radiation therapy or the low rate (44%) and amount of speech/swallowing treatment provided to these patients.
KEY WORDS: videofluoroscopy, dysphagia, postsurgical cancer, Intelligibility, articulation
Submitted on March 25, 1992
Accepted on September 30, 1992
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