The role of gastrostomy tube placement in advanced dementia with dysphagia: a critical review
Leanne S Goldberg,1 Kenneth W Altman2
1Department of Otolaryngology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA; 2Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA
Purpose: Over 4.5 million people in North America had a diagnosis of dementia in the year 2000, and more than half had advanced disease with potential aspiration risk. There is much controversy regarding the use and timing of enteral feeding support in these patients with dysphagia. The management of dysphagia is far more complex when considering quality of life, “comfort care” hand feeding, the use of percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy tube (PEG), and associated mortality rates. This study seeks to critically review the literature that evaluates PEG placement in this population.
Methods: A systematic literature review of PubMed, from 1995–2012, was conducted to identify studies relating to PEG placement in dementia patients with dysphagia. The principal outcomes and related survival rates for this population were compared.
Results: In total, 100 articles were identified in the search. Of these, ten met the search criteria and were analyzed. There was one study with a 2b level of evidence, one with 3b, and the remainder had level 4. All studies discussed long-term survival in the PEG versus non-PEG populations. No studies showed definitive evidence to suggest long-term survival rates improved in patients who underwent PEG placement as compared to those who did not. Two studies documented median survival worse in patients over age 80 with dementia and PEG placement.
Conclusion: There is presently no evidence to suggest long-term survival rates improved in patients with advanced dementia who underwent PEG placement for dysphagia. Relevance to quality of life, need for nutrition and hydration, and ethical considerations in the decision process are discussed.
Keywords: PEG, aspiration, elderly, feeding tube, swallow
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