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Influence Of Normal Aging On Oral-pharyngeal And Upper Esophageal Sphincter Function During Swallowing

D. W. Shaw, I. J. Cook, M. Gabb, R. H. Holloway, M. E. Simula, V. Panagopoulos, J. Dent

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The influence of aging on oral-pharyngeal swallowing was assessed by simultaneous manometry and videoradiography in 14 nondysphagic elderly individuals (mean age 76 yr) and 11 healthy, young controls (mean age 21 yr). Sphincter opening was diminished significantly in the elderly (P = 0.0001), but trans-sphincteric bolus flow rates were preserved. The increased impedance to trans-sphincteric bolus flow from reduced sphincter opening in the aged was reflected in a significant increase in hypopharyngeal intrabolus pressure (P = 0.003). Oral transit time was significantly prolonged in the aged (P = 0.01). The timing of upper esophageal sphincter (UES) manometric relaxation and of opening was significantly delayed in the aged (P = 0.0001), and this delay was comparable in magnitude to the prolongation in oral transit. Coordination of UES relaxation and opening with midpharyngeal contraction was not significantly affected by age. Deglutitive hyolaryngeal motion was not affected by age but was delayed by a duration equivalent to the prolongation in oral transit. We conclude that normal aging prolongs the oral-pharyngeal swallow that impairs UES opening but does not influence pharyngo-sphincteric coordination.