Esophageal Swallowing Timing Measures in Healthy Adults During Videofluoroscopy

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Abstract

Objectives:

Establishing the range of normal esophageal bolus transit times (ETT) is valuable when distinguishing pathology from normal variance, especially in elderly patients, and has not been documented for paste or pill. The aim of this study was to measure esophageal transit of liquid, paste, and pill during upright videofluoroscopy.

Methods:

One hundred eighteen healthy adults (mean age 54; range 20-98 years; SD = 21.40) with no complaints of dysphagia completed a videofluoroscopy with esophageal visualization including 20 ml liquid barium, 5 ml paste, and pill.

Results:

Mean ETTs were: 20 ml fluid, 10.7 seconds (SD = 13.6, median = 5.76, IQR = 4.33, range, 2.0-60.0); pill, 25.3 seconds (SD = 24.0, median = 12.70, IQR = 49.81, range, 1.0-60.0); paste, 28.6 seconds (SD = 23.31, median = 17.47, IQR = 53, range, 4.0-60.0). Age was significantly associated with increasing 20 ml fluid ETT (P < .001) but not pill (P = .58) or paste ETT (P = .12). Fluid ETT over 10 seconds occurred in 10% of participants between 20 and 59 years, in comparison to 35% over 60 years (P < .001).

Conclusions:

These normative values provide a standardized protocol and guidance in interpretation when completing esophageal visualization as part of videofluoroscopy. While measuring fluid ETT may support referral for further specialist investigations, slower paste and pill ETT may be normal findings. Age-related slowing in fluid ETT was seen in healthy adults. Further investigation of ETT is needed in both normal and dysphagic subjects.

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