Butler SG; Stuart A; Wilhelm E; Rees C; Williamson J; Kritchevsky S
Dysphagia;26(3):225-31, 2011 Sep.
The reasons for aspiration in healthy adults remain unknown. Given that the pharyngeal phase of swallowing is a key component of the safe swallow, it was hypothesized that healthy older adults who aspirate are likely to generate less pharyngeal peak pressures when swallowing. Accordingly, pharyngeal and upper esophageal sphincter pressures were examined as a function of aspiration status (i.e., nonaspirator vs. aspirator), sensor location (upper vs. lower pharynx), liquid type (i.e., water vs. milk), and volume (i.e., 5 vs. 10 ml) in healthy older adults. Manometric measurements were acquired with a 2.1-mm catheter during flexible endoscopic evaluation. Participants (N = 19, mean age = 79.2 years) contributed 28 swallows; during 8 swallows, simultaneous manometric measurements of upper and lower pharyngeal and upper esophageal pressures were obtained. Pharyngeal manometric peak pressure was significantly less for aspirators (mean = 82, SD = 31 mmHg) than for nonaspirators (mean = 112, SD = 20 mmHg), and upper pharyngeal pressures (mean = 85, SD = 32 mmHg) generated less pressure than lower pharyngeal pressures (mean = 116, SD = 38 mmHg). Manometric measurements vary with respect to aspiration status and sensor location. Lower pharyngeal pressures in healthy older adults may predispose them to aspiration.