Mechanisms of dysphagia in suprabulbar palsy with lacunar infarct

Ertekin C, Aydogdu I, Tarlaci S, Turman AB, Kiylioglu N.

Stroke. 2000 Jun;31(6):1370-6.

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE:

The objective of the present study was to investigate the neural mechanisms of dysphagia in suprabulbar palsy (SBP) with multiple lacunar infarct.

METHODS:

We evaluated the swallowing disorders of patients with SBP (n=34) and age-matched healthy control subjects (n=35) by means of an electrophysiological method that recorded the oropharyngeal swallowing patterns. With this method, dysphagia limit, the triggering of voluntarily initiated swallows, duration of laryngeal relocation time, and total duration of oropharyngeal swallowing were recorded and measured. In addition, the EMG behavior of the cricopharyngeal (CP) muscle of the upper esophageal sphincter was also assessed.

RESULTS:

In patients with SBP, the dysphagia limit in all except 1 patient was pathological with limits of <20-mL bolus volume, which is contrary to normal subjects, in whom the dysphagia limit exceeds the 20-mL bolus volume. Either triggering of swallowing reflex was delayed (P<0.04), or the swallow could hardly be triggered in 7 patients on the voluntary attempts for 3 mL water. Whenever the reflex swallowing could be triggered, it was slow and prolonged (P<0.01). The CP muscle of the upper esophageal sphincter appeared to have become hyperreflexic and incoordinated with laryngeal movements during swallowing.

CONCLUSIONS:

It was proposed that the progressive involvement of the excitatory and inhibitory corticobulbar fiber systems linked with the bulbar swallowing center is mainly responsible for the triggering difficulties of the swallowing reflex and for the hyperreflexic/incoordinated nature of the CP sphincter. In addition, the dysfunction of the extrapyramidal system has a specific role in the slowing of oropharyngeal swallowing and the accumulation of saliva in the mouth.

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