Relevance of subcortical stroke in dysphagia

Cola MG, Daniels SK, Corey DM, Lemen LC, Romero M, Foundas AL.

Stroke. 2010 Mar;41(3):482-6. Epub 2010 Jan 21.

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE:

Unilateral cortical lesions are associated with dysphagia in ischemic stroke. It is unclear, however, whether acute subcortical stroke is associated with a similar risk of dysphagia. The aim of this study was to determine the occurrence of dysphagia in purely subcortical stroke and identify dysphagia characteristics.

METHODS:

Between 2003 and 2005, videofluoroscopic swallow studies (VFSSs) were completed in 20 consecutive ischemic stroke patients with purely subcortical lesions (right hemisphere damage [RHD]=10, left hemisphere damage [LHD]=10) and 25 age-matched controls. Individuals were classified with dysphagia when at least 2 swallowing measures were 2 standard deviations above mean scores for the control group. Lesion volume, hemisphere, and location were determined from diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging scans.

RESULTS:

Seven subcortical stroke patients (35%) met VFSS criteria for dysphagia (LHD=5, RHD=2); 4 patients presented with clinically significant dysphagia. A significant interaction between hemisphere and lesion location was identified. Whereas 3 of 5 patients with dysphagia (60%) had lesions to the left periventricular white matter (PVWM), LHD patients without dysphagia did not have PVWM lesions. In contrast, no RHD patients with PVWM lesions had dysphagia, and 6 of 8 patients without dysphagia (75%) had PVWM lesions. Oral transfer was significantly slower in patients with subcortical stroke compared with the healthy adults.

CONCLUSIONS:

Lesions to the left PVWM may be more disruptive to swallowing behavior than similar lesions to the right PVWM. Swallowing deficits involving oral control and transfer may be a marker of subcortical neural axis involvement.

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