Tongue Thickness Relates to Nutritional Status in the Elderly

Fumiyo Tamura, Takeshi Kikutani, Takashi Tohara, Mitsuyoshi Yoshida and Ken Yaegaki

Dysphagia, 2012, DOI: 10.1007/s00455-012-9407-z

Abstract

Many elderly people under long-term care suffer from malnutrition caused by dysphagia, frequently leading to sarcopenia. Our hypothesis is that sarcopenia may compromise oral function, resulting in dysphagia. The objectives of this study were to evaluate sarcopenia of the lingual muscles by measuring the tongue thickness, and elucidate its relationship with nutritional status. We examined 104 elderly subjects (mean age = 80.3 ± 7.9 years). Anthropometric data, such as triceps skinfold thickness and midarm muscle area (AMA), were obtained. The tongue thickness of the central part was determined using ultrasonography. Measurement was performed twice and the mean value was obtained. The relationship between tongue thickness and nutritional status was analyzed by Pearson’s correlation coefficient and Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient. AMA and age were identified by multiple-regression analysis as factors influencing tongue thickness. The results of this study suggest that malnutrition may induce sarcopenia not only in the skeletal muscles but also in the tongue.
Keywords  Tongue thickness – Nutritional status – Dysphagia – Sarcopenia – Ultrasonography – Deglutition – Deglutition disorders

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