Effect of aging on bolus kinematics during the pharyngeal phase of swallowing

Eytan Bardan, Mark Kern, Ronald C. Arndorfer, Candy Hofmann, Reza Shaker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Swallowing difficulty is a common complaint in the elderly and, although there are data for the biomechanics of liquid swallows, little is known about solid bolus motion, or kinematics, in the elderly. The aims of this study were as follows: 1) to characterize and compare solid and liquid bolus kinematics in the elderly and compare the findings with those in young subjects and 2) to correlate bolus kinematics and dynamics. Concurrent manometric-fluoroscopic techniques were used to study eight young and eight elderly subjects. The subjects performed four swallows each of 0.2-cm-diameter solid barium pellets and 5 ml of liquid barium during sagittal fluoroscopy and six-channel pharyngoesophageal manometry. Images were digitized for analysis of kinematic properties such as velocity and acceleration. Dynamic pressures were recorded and coordinated with kinematic events. Image analysis showed that velocity varied as the pellet passed through the hypopharynx, pharynx, and upper esophageal sphincter. In young subjects, pellet kinematics were characterized by two zones of pellet acceleration: one over the tongue base and another as the pellet passed through the upper esophageal sphincter. Although the elderly showed a similar zone of acceleration over the base of the tongue, the second zone of pellet acceleration was not seen. Decreasing pressure gradients immediately distal to the position of the solid pellet and liquid bolus characterized dynamics for all subjects. This decreasing pressure gradient was significantly larger in elderly than in young subjects. Bolus kinematics and dynamics were significantly altered among elderly compared with young subjects. Among these differences were the absence of hypopharyngeal bolus acceleration and a significant increase in the transsphincteric pressure gradient in the elderly.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)G458-G465
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Dysphagia
  • Transsphincteric pressure
  • Upper esophageal sphincter


Dive into the research topics of 'Effect of aging on bolus kinematics during the pharyngeal phase of swallowing'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this