Background — Direct enteral feeding tube (DET) placement for dysphagia after stroke is associated with poor outcomes. However, the relationship between timing of DET placement and poststroke mortality and disability is unknown. We sought to determine the risk of mortality and severe disability in patients who receive DET at different times after stroke.
Methods — We used the Ontario Stroke Registry and linked administrative databases to identify patients with acute ischemic stroke or intracerebral hemorrhage between 2003 and 2013 who received DET (gastrostomy or jejunostomy) during their hospital admission. We grouped patients by week of DET placement and evaluated mortality at 30 days and 6 months after DET insertion, and disability at discharge. We used Cox proportional hazard models and multiple logistic regression to determine the association between time from admission to DET placement and outcomes, adjusting for patient and hospital factors.
Results — In the study sample of 1367 patients, the median time from admission to DET placement was 17 days. After adjustment, each week of delay to DET placement was associated with lower mortality at 30 days (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR] .88, 95% confidence interval [CI] .79-.98), but not at 6 months (aHR .98, 95% CI .91- 1.05), and a higher likelihood of severe disability at discharge (adjusted odds ratio 1.35, 95% CI 1.13- 1.60).
Conclusions — Later DET placement after stroke was associated with lower 30-day mortality but higher severe disability at discharge. Further research is needed to understand the reasons for these observations and to optimize patient selection and timing of DET.