Volumetric Changes to the Pharynx in Healthy Aging: Consequence for Pharyngeal Swallow Mechanics and Function

Sonja M. Molfenter, Charles Lenell, Cathy L. Lazarus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Pharyngeal lumen volume is prone to increase as a consequence of pharyngeal muscle atrophy in aging. Yet, the impact of this on swallowing mechanics and function is poorly understood. We examined the relationship between pharyngeal volume and pharyngeal swallowing mechanics and function in a sample of healthy community-dwelling seniors. Data were collected from 44 healthy seniors (21 male, mean age = 76.9, SD = 7.1). Each participant swallowed 9 boluses of barium (3 × 5 ml thin, 3 × 20 ml thin, 3 × 5 ml nectar). Pharyngeal shortening, pharyngeal constriction, pyriform sinus and vallecular residue were quantified from lateral view videofluorosopic swallowing studies. Pharyngeal lumen volume was captured during an oral breathing task with acoustic pharyngometry. In addition, within-participant measures of strength and anthropometrics were collected. Four linear mixed effects regression models were run to study the relationship between pharyngeal volume and pharyngeal constriction, pharyngeal shortening, pyriform sinus residue, and vallecular residue while controlling for bolus condition, age, sex, and posterior tongue strength. Increasing pharyngeal lumen volume was significantly related to worse constriction and vallecular residue. In general, larger and thicker boluses resulted in worse pharyngeal constriction and residue. Pharyngeal shortening was only significantly related to posterior tongue strength. Our work establishes the utility of acoustic pharyngometry to monitor pharyngeal lumen volume. Increasing pharyngeal lumen volume appears to impact both pharyngeal swallowing mechanics and function in a sample of healthy, functional seniors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-137
Number of pages9
JournalDysphagia
Volume34
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2018

Keywords

  • Acoustic pharyngometry
  • Aging
  • Atrophy
  • Deglutition
  • Deglutition disorders
  • Dysphagia
  • Pharyngeal constriction
  • Pharyngeal shortening
  • Pharynx
  • Residue
  • Sarcopenia
  • Swallowing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Speech and Hearing

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