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This study evaluated the longitudinal and long-term effects of radiotherapy on swallowing function after tongue reconstruction.
The study comprised 16 patients who had: undergone glossectomy and tongue reconstruction with free flap transfer, received adjuvant radiotherapy, and survived without recurrence for at least 1 year. Swallowing function, as indicated by tolerance of oral intake, was evaluated before radiotherapy, at radiotherapy completion, and at 6 and 12 months after radiotherapy completion.
Before radiotherapy, all patients could tolerate oral intake. At radiotherapy completion, only three patients could consume all nutrition orally. However, swallowing function improved over time, and by 12 months after radiotherapy completion it had returned nearly to that before radiotherapy.
Acute dysphagia due to radiotherapy after tongue reconstruction is severe, but can improve gradually. Multidisciplinary support of patients during percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy dependence is important to improve long-term functional outcomes.
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