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01.12.2014 | Original Article | Ausgabe 6/2014 Open Access

Dysphagia 6/2014

Variations in Tongue-Palate Swallowing Pressures When Swallowing Xanthan Gum-Thickened Liquids

Dysphagia > Ausgabe 6/2014
Catriona M. Steele, Sonja M. Molfenter, Melanie Péladeau-Pigeon, Rebecca C. Polacco, Clemence Yee


Thickened liquids are frequently recommended to reduce the risk of aspiration in patients with oropharyngeal dysphagia. Although it has previously been reported that tongue-palate pressures increase when swallowing spoon-thick and semi-solid consistencies compared to thin liquids, relatively little is known about how swallowing behaviors differ when swallowing liquids of nectar- or honey-thick consistency. Furthermore, previous studies have primarily used starch-based thickeners, and little is known about swallowing behaviors with xanthan gum-thickened liquids, which have recently been introduced for dysphagia management. In this study, we measured variations in tongue-palate pressures during the swallowing of liquids thickened to apparent viscosities of 190, 250, and 380 mPa s at 50/s using increasing concentrations of xanthan gum (0.5, 0.63 and 0.87 w/w%). The viscosity differences between these nectar- and honey-thick stimuli were confirmed to exceed sensory perceptual discrimination thresholds. Data were collected from 78 healthy adults in two sex-balanced age-groups (young; mature) and compared to reference values obtained during water swallowing. The results confirm that increased amplitudes of tongue-palate pressure were used when swallowing the thickened liquid stimuli, compared to swallows of water, and for the honey-thick liquid compared to the two nectar-thick liquids. Age-related reductions were seen in tongue strength but not in swallowing pressures, which fell below 40 % of maximum isometric pressure values. Thus, the use of xanthan gum-thickened liquids is unlikely to tax the swallowing system in terms of tongue pressure generation requirements, even in seniors with reduced maximum isometric tongue pressure measures.

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