Gastro-oesophageal reflux and cricopharyngeal dysfunction – how do they link?

It has been hypothesised that cricopharyngeal muscle hypertrophy develops as a response to chronic gastro-oesophageal reflux disease. The cricopharyngeus muscle is an important component and contributor to the upper oesophageal sphincter that creates a barrier between the pharynx and oesophagus....

Standardising videofluoroscopy assessment for bottle-fed babies

Swallowing problems in babies may occur for many reasons including complex medical problems, premature birth, and low birth-weight. Dysphagia causes several further morbidities such as poor nutrition and compromised respiration, often raising distress for both infants and their caregivers. Early...

From a dysphagia clinical trial to a multidisciplinary head and neck clinical pathway – the road to implementation

This paper describes the barriers and facilitators to establishing a structured and coordinated multidisciplinary care pathway for patients with head and neck cancer at a medical centre in the USA. The initiative was set in motion by the roll out...

Do nasogastric tubes affect aspiration risk?

A nasogastric tube (NGT) is frequently used for patients who are at risk of endotracheal aspiration of oral diet. However, this cannot eliminate the aspiration of saliva. The incidence of aspiration pneumonia in patients with NGT therefore remains high. Some...

Bothersome ‘burping’ – speech therapy may help

Most people experience belching as a normal phenomenon, often after eating or drinking carbonated drinks in particular. However, separate to this normal physiological phenomenon, some people experience belches that can occur much more frequently (up to 20 times a minute)...

Who finds it hard to swallow?

Early identification of dysphagia in inpatients on acute stroke wards has been recommended as best practice guidelines in many countries. However, several institutions fail to use formal dysphagia screening protocols and rely on informal detection by nurses and doctors. This...

Grading dysphagia as a toxicity in treating head and neck cancer

Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (CTCAE) is a system used by clinicians to grade the toxicity of oncology treatments in a standardised manner. Dysphagia is perhaps the most common long-term toxicity of head and neck cancer treatment. Currently, a...

Can laryngeal sensitivity testing predict aspiration and pneumonia in dysphagic patients?

The laryngeal adductor reflex (LAR) is characterised by brief vocal cord closure in response to laryngeal stimulation. It is important in swallowing physiology as it represents a mechanism for airway protection. The authors of this study examined whether the absence...

Should patients with dysphagia be allowed water freely?

Patients with dysphagia often experience dehydration as a consequence of “nil by mouth” or having to consume thickened fluids due to aspiration of thin fluids. However, not all incidents of aspiration develop into an infection. Factors that contribute to aspiration...

Less pain more gain: impact of prophylactic gabapentin on swallowing outcomes in head and neck cancer patients undergoing radiation treatment

Patients planned for chemoradiation to the head and neck are usually advised to expect some pain and soreness during their treatment and that pain relief will be offered as and when it is required. Uncontrolled pain and mucositis affect oral...

Do certain chronic medications increase dysphagia in older people?

Oropharyngeal dysphagia is known to affect a high number of older people in the community, in care homes and in acute geriatric admissions to hospital. The authors of this study have recognised that many older people take drugs for chronic...

Radiation-induced dysphagia in head and neck cancer

This is a helpful reference paper that provides an overview of the biomolecular effects of radiation on the tissues of the upper aero-digestive tract. The authors explain that radiation injuries occur in a repetitive and accruing manner over the duration...

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