Swallowing was studied prospectively in a consecutive group of 90 neurology outpatients under 70 years of age. No patient had been referred primarily because of dysphagia. Patients were classified into four groups: those with (1) neurological or (2) non-neurological diagnoses possibly relevant to disordered swallowing, (3) functional disorders, and (4) definite diagnoses not likely to be relevant. They were defined as having abnormal or probably abnormal swallowing if two or more of the following were present: a complaint of swallowing problem, abnormal symptoms or signs, a slow swallowing speed (<10 ml.s-1). Nineteen patients among the four groups (21%) were found to have abnormal/probably abnormal swallowing. Swallowing speed was significantly slower in patients who perceived a swallowing problem or who had abnormal symptoms or signs compared with those who did not, providing further evidence for the validity of a timed test of swallowing capacity. The study also provides evidence of a significant incidence of disordered swallowing in outpatients who may not have complained spontaneously but who have diagnoses potentially relevant to swallowing.
Key wordsDysphagia Neurology outpatients Swallowing speed Swallowing capacity Deglutition Deglution disorders
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