Evaluation of Hypopharyngeal Suction to Eliminate Aspiration: The Retro-Esophageal Suction (REScue) Catheter

Peter C Belafsky, O. B. Mehdizadeh, L. Ledgerwood, Maggie Kuhn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Profound oropharyngeal dysphagia (OPD) is common and costly. Treatment options are limited. The purpose of this investigation was to evaluate the utility of hypopharyngeal suction at the upper esophageal sphincter (UES) to eliminate aspiration. Five different catheters were passed retrograde up the esophagus and positioned at the UES in a cadaver model of profound OPD. Suction was affixed to each catheter. 10 cc of barium was administered into the pyriform sinus, and videofluoroscopy was utilized to evaluate the presence of aspiration. 6 trials were administered per catheter and for a no catheter control. The outcome measures were the incidence of aspiration, the NIH Swallow Safety Scale (NIH-SSS), and UES opening. Control trials with no suction resulted in an aspiration rate of 100 % (6/6 trials). Negative pressure through 16, 18, 24, and 30 Fr catheter resulted in an aspiration rate of 0 % (0/24 trials; p < 0.001), and suction through a 12-Fr catheter resulted in an aspiration rate of 33 % (2/6 trials; p > 0.05). The mean NIH-SSS improved from 7.0 (±0.0) in the control to 0 (±0.0) with hypopharyngeal suction (18 Fr nasogastric catheter; p < 0.001). Mean UES opening improved from 0.0 (±0.0) mm in the control condition to 8.6 (±0.2) mm with a hypopharyngeal catheter (16 Fr Foley catheter; p < 0.001). Negative pressure applied through retro-esophageal suction catheters (>12 Fr) at the level of the UES reduced aspiration by 100 % and significantly increased UES opening in a cadaveric model of profound oropharyngeal dysphagia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)74-79
Number of pages6
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015


  • Aspiration
  • Deglutition
  • Deglutition disorders
  • Dysphagia
  • Endoscopy
  • Esophageal suction
  • Feeding tube
  • Oropharyngeal dysphagia (OPD)
  • Retro-esophageal suction
  • Suction
  • Surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Speech and Hearing


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