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J R Soc Med. 1994 December; 87(12): 801–805.
PMCID: PMC1295008

Swallowing in motor neurone disease.


Ninety-two patients with motor neurone disease have been assessed clinically and radiologically for evidence of swallowing problems. At the time of examination, moderate or severe swallowing difficulty was present in 89% of those whose disease had presented as bulbar palsy, in 45% of those in whom the disease began many months before as progressive muscular atrophy and in 29% of those with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Patients with more severe swallowing symptoms appeared more likely to have abnormal findings on videofluoroscopy overall. However, not all patients with an abnormal radiological picture had swallowing difficulties. It is suggested that radiological signs should only be used within the context of clinical symptoms and signs in the selection of patients for palliative surgery. Thirteen patients with pseudobulbar symptoms and signs had a cricopharyngeal myotomy performed: two suffered major post-operative complications. However, the satisfaction rate was 89% and we recommend cricopharyngeal myotomy for such patients. Pharyngostomy was performed for seven patients unable to initiate swallowing, six had post-operative complications.

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Selected References

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