Background: Cervical auscultation (i.e. listening to swallowing sounds) is the most commonly used technique in adjuvant to the clinical feeding examination by speech-language pathologists worldwide to assess for oropharyngeal aspiration risk in children. Despite its relative popularity in clinical practice, little is known on the clinical utility of cervical auscultation within a paediatric population.
Objective: To determine the diagnostic test accuracy of the clinical feeding examination with cervical auscultation in the detection of aspiration in children.
Type of review: Narrative review. Prospero Registration: CRD42017081467 Search strategy: Medline/Pub Med, Embase, CINAHL, AustHealth, Cochrane and UQ (Scopus) were searched up until October 2017. Specifically, the search terms used were: (((oropharyngeal OR respiratory) aspiration) AND (child* OR pediatr* OR paediatr*) and (cervical auscultation OR swallow sounds OR swallowing sounds OR accelerometry OR swallowing acoustics)). The search strategy also included scanning reference lists and citations of retrieved studies.
Evaluation method: Extracted studies were reviewed by two independent reviewers. Methodological quality of studies was assessed using the QUADAS-2 tool.
Results: Only one study met inclusion criteria for this review, which had a bias for flow and timing. Use of cervical auscultation in conjunction with the clinical feeding examination to predict aspiration had a positive predictor value (PPV) of only 0.49 (0.31-0.66), indicating potential over-prediction of aspiration when cervical auscultation is used. In contrast a high NPV of 0.92 (0.78-0.98) was reported indicating that cervical auscultation is useful at ruling out aspiration in children.
Conclusion: This review highlights the paucity of research studies assessing the accuracy of cervical auscultation as an adjuvant to the clinical feeding examination in aspiration detection within the paediatric population.