, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 104–114 | Cite as

Pharyngeal Pressure and Timing During Bolus Transit

  • Chelsea C. Walczak
  • Corinne A. Jones
  • Timothy M. McCullochEmail author
Original Article


Determining intrabolus pressure (IBP) at the upper esophageal sphincter (UES) and in the esophagus has given compelling evidence that IBP can be a predictor for swallowing dysfunction. Studies have looked most superiorly at the low hypopharynx region but there has been no inquiry into what IBP measures throughout the entire pharynx can tell us. We present a study to describe the pressures within and surrounding the moving bolus throughout the pharynx and into the UES. Simultaneous high-resolution manometry (HRM) and videofluoroscopy were performed in ten healthy subjects swallowing ten 10 mL thin-liquid barium boluses. Three events surrounding bolus movement were tracked via videofluoroscopy, and two additional events were found using manometric measures. As the bolus passes through the pharynx, low pressure is created at and below the head of the bolus. A modest pressure increase is seen as the bolus passes through the pharynx, and finally, high pressure is observed at the bolus tail, followed by an even larger pressure generation of a clearance event. HRM allows for greater resolution in data collection in the pharynx and in this study, aided in identifying semi-unique characteristics around the hypopharynx and the UES which are consistent with the complex anatomy of the regions and the transition of the UES from active closure to relaxed opening. In the future, additional studies designed to look at aged and diseased populations may lead to better understanding of disease etiology, and treatment options.


High-resolution manometry Videofluoroscopy Intrabolus Pressure Deglutition Deglutition disorders 



The authors would like to acknowledge University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Surgery biostatisticians Glen Leverson, Ph.D., and Ying Shan, M.S., for their assistance with statistical analysis. The authors would also like to acknowledge Levi Brown, B.A., and William Bleifuss, B.S., for their assistance with data analysis.


This research was supported by National Institutes of Health Grant Number 1R21DC011130-01A1. CAJ was also supported by T32GM007507.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chelsea C. Walczak
    • 1
  • Corinne A. Jones
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Timothy M. McCulloch
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Division of Otolaryngology, Department of SurgeryUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Communication Sciences and DisordersUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  3. 3.Neuroscience Training ProgramUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA

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