Deglutition, Swallowing, and Airway Protection: Physiology and Pathophysiology

Part of the Respiratory Medicine book series (RM, volume 2)


Deglutition is a complex sensorimotor activity requiring coordination of multiple muscle groups, cranial nerves, and central systems, from the brainstem to the cortex, to achieve a timely, reliable swallow. Equally important is coordination with the respiratory system to ensure safety of the swallow. This fine balance is achieved with remarkable consistency and is due to elaborate neural networks, precise integration of aerodigestive tract reflexes, and patterned activity controlled by medullary centers. This chapter reviews the physiology of normal swallowing and its coordination with airway protection and the pathophysiology occurring when these processes fail.


Deglutition Dysphagia Aspiration Penetration Upper esophageal sphincter Lower esophageal sphincter Gastroesophageal reflux disease GERD Laryngeal reflexes Laryngopharyngeal reflux Airway protection Aerodigestive tracts reflexes 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of OtolaryngologyNorth Shore HospitalAucklandNew Zealand

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