Aspiration and Related Complications
Aspiration is the inhalation of oropharyngeal or gastric contents into the larynx and the lower airway. Aspiration of the sterile gastric contents leads to aspiration pneumonitis, whereas aspiration of oropharyngeal contents leads to aspiration pneumonia. The pathophysiology is distinct between the two conditions. It is one of the important causes of pneumonia in the intensive care setting, in patients with oropharyngeal dysphagia secondary to neurological disorders and head-neck cancer patients. This chapter will focus on the aspiration and its management in head and neck cancer patients.