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Electromyographic Activity From Human Laryngeal, Pharyngeal, And Submental Muscles During Swallowing

A. L. Perlman, P. M. Palmer, T. M. McCulloch, D. J. Vandaele

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The durations and temporal relationships of electromyographic activity from the submental complex, superior pharyngeal constrictor, cricopharyngeus, thyroarytenoid, and interarytenoid muscles were examined during swallowing of saliva and of 5- and 10-ml water boluses. Bipolar, hooked-wire electrodes were inserted into all muscles except for the submental complex, which was studied with bipolar surface electrodes. Eight healthy, normal, subjects produced five swallows of each of three bolus volumes for a total of 120 swallows. The total duration of electromyographic activity during the pharyngeal stage of the swallow did not alter with bolus condition; however, specific muscles did show a volume-dependent change in electromyograph duration and time of firing. Submental muscle activity was longest for saliva swallows. The interarytenoid muscle showed a significant difference in duration between the saliva and 10-ml water bolus. Finally, the interval between the onset of laryngeal muscle activity (thyroarytenoid, interarytenoid) and of pharyngeal muscle firing patterns (superior pharyngeal constrictor onset, cricopharyngeus offset) decreased as bolus volume increased. The pattern of muscle activity associated with the swallow showed a high level of intrasubject agreement; the presence of somewhat different patterns among subjects indicated a degree of population variance.