Pharyngeal Constriction in Elderly Dysphagic Patients Compared with Young and Elderly Nondysphagic Controls
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This article reports the results of our study to determine the incidence of abnormalities in timing and extent of pharyngeal constriction in an elderly population with complaints of dysphagia. We performed a retrospective analysis of videofluoroscopic studies, i.e., dynamic swallow studies, that were performed between 1996 and 1999. Included in the study were patients over 65 years old without an obvious medical or surgical cause for their dysphagia complaints. The timing of maximum pharyngeal constriction was measured relative to the onset of bolus pharyngeal transit, relative to the arrival of the bolus at the upper esophageal sphincter, and relative to the exit of the tail of the bolus from the upper esophageal sphincter. The extent of maximum pharyngeal constriction was measured from a lateral view. Patient data were compared with data gathered from young (18-62 years old) nondysphagic controls and with data gathered from elderly (67-83 years old) nondysphagic controls. We found that 73% of the patient population demonstrated incomplete pharyngeal constriction relative to controls, although the timing of pharyngeal constriction remained coordinated relative to the position of the bolus in the pharynx. Poor pharyngeal constriction, suggestive of pharyngeal weakness, contributed to 75% of the cases of aspiration.
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