Review articleSmukalla SM, et al. Curr Treat Options Gastroenterol. 2017
OPINION STATEMENT: Dysphagia is a common problem in the elderly population with an especially high prevalence in hospitalized and institutionalized patients. If inadequately addressed, dysphagia leads to significant morbidity and contributes to decreased quality of life. Dysphagia can be categorized as emanating from either an oropharyngeal or esophageal process. A disproportionate number of elderly patients suffer from oropharyngeal dysphagia with a multifactorial etiology. Historically, treatment options have been limited and included mostly supportive care with a focus on dietary modification, food avoidance, and swallow rehabilitation. Nascent technologies such as the functional luminal imaging probe (FLIP) and advances in esophageal manometry are improving our understanding of the pathophysiology of oropharyngeal dysphagia. Recent developments in the treatment of specific causes of oropharyngeal dysphagia, including endoscopic balloon dilations for upper esophageal sphincter (UES) dysfunction, show promise and are expected to enhance with further research. Esophageal dysphagia is also common in the elderly and more commonly due to an identifiable cause. The full breadth of treatment options is frequently unavailable to elderly patients due to comorbidities and overall functional status. However, the increasing availability of less invasive solutions to specific esophageal pathologies has augmented the number of treatment options available to this population, where an individualized approach to patient care is paramount. This review focuses on the evaluation and management of dysphagia in the elderly and delineates how standard and novel therapeutics are contributing to more nuanced and personalized management.