Extent of hyoid movement and epiglottis inversion as correlates of dysphagia severity in post-treatment head and neck cancer patients

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  • Introduction Swallowing is the coordinated effort of several structures, including the hyoid and larynx, to move the bolus (i.e., the food or drink being swallowed) from the mouth, through the throat, and to the stomach. The hyoid is involved in moving the larynx up and forward, while the epiglottis inverts to protect the airway. Dysphagia is a delay or disruption in the timing or control of swallowing and can lead to part of the bolus entering the larynx (penetration) or even entering the lungs (aspiration). Head and neck cancer patients often experience some degree of dysphagia following chemoradiation therapy and/or surgery. This can have a significant impact on the patient’s mortality and quality of life. Purpose While hyoid excursion and epiglottis inversion seem to be important to normal swallowing function, previous studies did not find a significant correlation between these two kinematic events and dysphagia (Kraaijenga et al. 2017). With computer tracking methods applied to videofluoroscopic swallowing studies (VFSS), a more detailed investigation is possible. This may reveal whether decreased mobility of the structures in question indeed relates to increased dysphagia severity. The presence of a negative correlation between hyoid/epiglottis kinematics and dysphagia severity could suggest they are important factors for successful swallowing. Such an understanding would help guide treatment decisions and improve post-treatment outcomes.

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    Conference/Workshop Poster
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    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International