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Management of Dysphagia in Head and Neck Cancer Patient during COVID-19 Pandemic: Practical Strategy    
  • Peter KM Ku, MD
Peter KM Ku, MD
United Christian Hospital and Tseung Kwan O Hospital
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Abstract

The global pandemic of 2019 Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) has tremendously altered routine medical service provision and imposed unprecedented challenges to the healthcare system. This impacts patients with dysphagia complications caused by head and neck cancers. As this pandemic of COVID-19 may last longer than SARS in 2003, a practical workflow for managing dysphagia is crucial to ensure a safe and efficient practice to patients and healthcare personnel. This document provides clinical practice guidelines based on available evidence to date to balance the risks of SARS-CoV-2 exposure with the risks associated with dysphagia. Critical considerations include reserving instrumental assessments for urgent cases only, optimizing the non-instrumental swallowing evaluation, appropriate use of PPE, and use of telehealth when appropriate. Despite significant limitations in clinical service provision during the pandemic of COVID-19, a safe and reasonable dysphagia care pathway can still be implemented with modifications of setup and application of newer technologies.