Epidemiology of Aspiration Pneumonia: How Frequently Does Aspiration Pneumonia Occur in Older Adults?

  • Tomomi Mitsuhata
  • Shinji TeramotoEmail author
Part of the Respiratory Disease Series: Diagnostic Tools and Disease Managements book series (RDSDTDM)


Aspiration pneumonia (AP) is a distinct subtype of pneumonia that significantly contributes to pneumonia-associated deaths. However, its incidence has yet to be fully elucidated. AP can occur in elderly patients with concomitant diseases and in post-surgical patients. The proportion of AP cases in community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) patients reported in previous studies was 5%–60%. The incidence of AP cases among patients with CAP was 5%–16.5% in Spain, France, and North America. On the other hand, it was 60% in Japan based on a multicenter study in 2008. These discrepancies in the findings among studies may arise from differences in the case definitions of AP and the quality of dysphagia assessment. In patients with nursing and healthcare-associated pneumonia, the AP proportion was consistently reported to be 57.8% and 63.5% in Japan.

Many patients with neurological diseases such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis are also at a risk of AP. However, the incidence of AP was variable ranging from 2.4% to 44%. Dysphagia considerably affects patient prognosis.

Postoperative AP becomes a critical issue in the management of many surgeries. AP could be found in patients with head and neck cancer, esophageal cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and orthopedic surgeries. The incidence was reported to range from 1.42% to 26.2% in different surgeries.

To determine the proportion of AP in various diseases, the appropriate assessment of swallowing function in patients with pneumonia is urgently necessary for distinct diagnosis of AP in clinical settings.


Aspiration pneumonia Community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) Nursing and healthcare-associated pneumonia (NHCAP) Post-stroke pneumonia Post-surgical patients 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Internal MedicineTokyo Medical University Hachioji Medical CenterTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Department of Respiratory MedicineTokyo Medical University Hachioji Medical CenterTokyoJapan

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