Antipsychotic medication and oropharyngeal dysphagia: systematic review

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The association between antipsychotics (also known as neuroleptics) and oropharyngeal dysphagia (OD) has been suggested in several case reports. The purpose of this systematic review was to examine the effect of antipsychotic medication on OD. A systematic literature search was carried out according to PRISMA guidelines using the electronic databases Pubmed and Embase. In Pubmed, we used the MeSH terms ‘antipsychotic agents’ OR ‘tranquilizing agents’ combined with ‘deglutition disorders’ OR ‘deglutition’. In Embase, we used the Emtree terms ‘neuroleptic agents’ combined with ‘swallowing’ OR ‘dysphagia’. Two reviewers assessed the eligibility of each report independently. The level of evidence of the included studies was also assessed according to pre-established criteria. Case reports were excluded. We found 18 clinical studies of dysphagia related to antipsychotics: 12 were related both to typical and atypical antipsychotics, four to atypical antipsychotics and two to typical antipsychotics. According to the clinical studies included, prevalence of patients with swallowing problems taking antipsychotics ranged from 21.9 to 69.5% whereas prevalence of patients without swallowing problems taking antipsychotics ranged from 5 to 30.5%. The available evidence suggests considering an etiology of dysphagia in patients with swallowing problems who are taking antipsychotics, even if no other symptoms are present. Although few general conclusions can be drawn from current evidence, both typical and atypical antipsychotics can be associated with OD.

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