Comparison of upper esophageal sphincter opening in healthy asymptomatic young and elderly volunteers

Mark Kern, Eytan Bardan, Ronald Arndorfer, Candy Hofmann, Junlong Ren, Reza Shaker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Deglutitive upper esophageal sphincter opening (UES) in the elderly has been incompletely studied. Our aim was to determine in the elderly the temporal and dimensional characteristics of deglutitive UES opening; anterior and superior hyoid and laryngeal excursions as measures of distracting forces imparted on the UES; and hypopharyngeal intrabolus pressure (IBP). Fourteen healthy elderly and 14 healthy young volunteers were studied by concurrent videofluoroscopy and hypopharyngeal manometry during swallowing of 5- and 10- mL barium boluses. The anteroposterior UES diameter, as well as the anterior hyoid bone and laryngeal excursion, was significantly smaller in the elderly compared to the young (p < .05) for 5-mL barium boluses, but not for 10-mL boluses. The lateral diameter of UES opening was similar between groups for all boluses. The IBP for 5- and 10-mL swallows in the elderly was significantly higher than that in the young (p < .05). We conclude that anteroposterior deglutitive UES opening and hyoid bone and thyroid cartilage anterior excursion are reduced in the elderly. These changes are associated with increased IBP, suggesting a higher pharyngeal outflow resistance in the elderly compared to the young.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)982-989
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Compliance
  • Hydrodynamic resistance to flow
  • Traction forces


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