Physiological compensation for advanced bolus location at swallow onset: A retrospective analysis in healthy seniors

Erica G. Herzberg, Danielle Brates, Sonja M. Molfenter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Previous work has established that advanced bolus location at swallow onset (BLSO) alone is not correlated with an increased swallowing safety risk in healthy seniors. The primary goal of this retrospective study was to examine whether healthy seniors systematically alter their laryngeal vestibule closure reaction time (LVCrt) to maintain a safe swallow in the context of advanced BLSO. The secondary goal was to determine if longer LVCrt distinguished Penetration–Aspiration Scale (PAS; Rosenbek, Robbins, Roecker, Coyle, & Wood, 1996) scores of 1 versus 2. Method: Videofluoroscopy studies from 43 healthy seniors (21 men, 22 women; Mage = 76.7 years, SD = 7.2) were analyzed. LVCrt was calculated for 3 × 5 ml and 3 × 20 ml thin liquid barium boluses per participant. PAS and BLSO (Modified Barium Swallow Impairment Profile Component 6) were scored for all swallows. Reliability (intraclass correlation coefficient > .75) was established on all measures. A linear mixed-effects regression was run to examine the effect of PAS and BLSO on LVCrt while controlling for bolus volume and repeated swallow trial. Results: There was a main effect of BLSO (F = 4.6, p = .004) and PAS (F = 29.3, p < .001) on LVCrt. Post hoc pairwise comparisons revealed that LVCrt was significantly faster in BLSO scores of 3 (pyriforms) compared to scores of both 0 (posterior angle of the ramus) and 1 (valleculae). Significantly prolonged LVCrt was observed in PAS scores of 2 in comparison to 1. No significant main effects of bolus volume or trial, or interactions, were observed. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that healthy seniors compensate for advanced BLSO by increasing their LVCrt. Furthermore, faster LVCrt was shown to distinguish PAS scores of 1 versus 2. Additional work should explore the relationship between LVCrt, BLSO, and PAS scores in dysphagic populations, specifically those with known sensory impairments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4351-4355
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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