Respiratory-swallow phase patterns and their relationship to swallowing impairment in patients treated for oropharyngeal cancer

Martin B. Brodsky, David H. McFarland, Thomas S. Dozier, Julie Blair, Christopher Ayers, Yvonne Michel, M. Boyd Gillespie, Terry A. Day, Bonnie Martin-Harris*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Background. Unstable respiratory-swallowing coordination has been associated with disorders and disease. The goals of this study were (1) to describe respiratory-swallow patterns in patients with dysphagia consequent to treatments for cancers of the oropharynx and (2) to determine the association between respiratory-swallow patterns, airway invasion, and overall severity of swallowing impairment. Methods. This prospective, cross-sectional design compared respiratory-swallow patterns in 20 patients treated for oropharyngeal cancer and 20 healthy, age-matched control participants. Nasal airflow direction was synchronously recorded with videofluoroscopic imaging in participants who swallowed 5-mL thin liquid barium boluses. Results. Respiratory-swallow patterns differed between groups. Most control participants initiated and completed swallowing bracketed by expiratory airflow. Swallowing in patients often interrupted inspiratory flow and was associated with penetration or aspiration of the bolus. Conclusions. We suggest nonexpiratory bracketed respiratory-swallowing phase patterns in patients with oropharyngeal cancer may place patients at greater risk of airway penetration or aspiration during swallowing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)481-489
Number of pages9
JournalHead and Neck
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2010


  • Chemotherapy
  • Dysphagia
  • Oropharyngeal cancer
  • Radiation
  • Respiration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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