Koichiro Matsuo, Michio Yokoyama, Marlis Gonzalez-Fernandez, Eiichi Saitoh, Hitoshi Kagaya, Mikoto Baba, Wataru Fujii and Jeffrey B. Palmer
Mastication and food consistency each affect the passage of food through the oral cavity and pharynx and its
coordination with swallow initiation. Since hemispheric stroke may damage cortico-medullary neural pathways, we
hypothesized that it could also alter the coordination of eating and swallowing. Using videofluorography, we studied
30 individuals with hemispheric stroke and 27 age-matched controls as they consumed liquid barium, corned beef
hash, or a combination of liquid and solid (two-phase) food. We tracked the leading edge of the barium during
feeding and at swallow onset in relation to occurrences of laryngeal penetration and aspiration. Compared with
asymptomatic controls, the leading edge remained in the hypopharynx before swallowing longer in stroke subjects
(P = 0.016) and was lower in the foodway at swallow onset with two-phase food (P = 0.03) and liquid (P = 0.06).
Penetration-aspiration scores were significantly higher for liquid and two-phase ingesta when the leading edge was
deeper in the pharynx at swallow onset (P = 0.03). These findings suggest that stroke alters the coordination of
bolus transport and swallowing, particularly with foods containing a liquid phase. With such an impairment, a bolus
may enter the hypopharynx prematurely, thus increasing the risk of aspiration.