Characteristics of dysphagia in older patients evaluated at a tertiary center

Kocdor P, Siegel ER, Giese R, Tulunay-Ugur OE.

Laryngoscope. 2014 Sep 5.


To determine laryngoscopic and videofluoroscopic swallowing study (VFSS) findings in geriatric patients with dysphagia; to evaluate management.

Study Design

Retrospective chart review.


Patients over 65 years old complaining of dysphagia, seen at a tertiary laryngology clinic, were included. Head and neck cancer and stroke patients were excluded. Demographics, laryngoscopic findings, swallowing studies, and treatment modalities were reviewed.


Sixty-five patients were included. Mean age was 75 years old (range = 66–97) with female predominance of 67.6%. Weight loss was seen in 9.2% of the patients. Whereas 52.3% of the patients complained of solid food dysphagia, 53.8% were choking on food. On laryngoscopy, 15.3% of the patients had pooling in the pyriform sinuses, 30.7% had glottic gap, 18.4% had vocal fold immobility, and 3% had hypomobility. VFSS showed that 38.4% of the patients had pharyngoesophageal dysphagia, 20% had oropharyngeal dysphagia, 20% had pharyngeal dysphagia, and 20% had a normal study. In addition, 41.5% of the patients showed laryngeal penetration and 18.4% showed aspiration. Surgical intervention was employed in 29.2% of the patients in the form of botulinum toxin injection, esophageal dilatation, cricopharyngeal myotomy, vocal fold injection, diverticulectomy, and percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy. Whereas 21.5% of the patients received swallowing therapy, 61.5% underwent diet modification. As a result, 80% of the patients needed some type of treatment.


Swallowing problems in older patients are not uncommon. The clinician needs to be diligent to inquire about dysphagia because a large number of these patients will require treatment.


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