Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may be at increased risk of aspiration secondary to impaired swallow function. One possible cause of this impairment is a reduction in laryngopharyngeal sensitivity. The relationship between COPD and laryngopharyngeal sensitivity has not been previously determined. We conducted a study to investigate the effect of COPD on laryngopharyngeal sensitivity by using laryngopharyngeal sensory discrimination testing (LPSDT). Our study population was made up of 20 adults (mean age: 71.7 yr) with clinically proven COPD and 11 healthy, age-matched controls. All 31 subjects underwent LPSDT with the use of an air-pulse stimulator via a nasendoscope. The threshold of laryngopharyngeal sensation was evaluated by measuring the amount of air pressure required to elicit the laryngeal adductor reflex (LAR). We found that the patients with COPD had a significantly higher LAR threshold than did the controls (p< 0.001). We conclude that patients with COPD have significantly less mechanosensitivity in the laryngopharynx. This sensory change may place patients with COPD at increased risk for aspiration.
ENT Journal provides full text articles to our registered members.
Please log in or sign up for a FREE membership to view the full content: