New Swallowing Method to Improve Pharyngeal Passage of a Bolus by Creating Negative Pressure in the Esophagus—Vacuum Swallowing

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Abstract

Herein, we present a case of a patient with Wallenberg syndrome with severe bulbar dysphagia who discovered a unique swallowing method: creating strong negative pressure in the esophagus to improve pharyngeal passage of a bolus. A 47-yr-old man presented with a subarachnoid hemorrhage secondary to a ruptured aneurysm in the right vertebral artery. After coil embolization, he experienced severe dysphagia due to Wallenberg syndrome and required tube feeding. Eighty-one days after the onset of the stroke, a videofluoroscopic swallowing evaluation revealed that the bolus was rapidly sucked into the esophagus. High-resolution manometry showed weak constriction of the pharynx simultaneous with forced, voluntary constriction of the diaphragm before swallowing; this created negative pressure in the esophagus. The authors named this unique swallowing method “vacuum swallowing.” Ultimately, the patient was able to eat an ordinary diet via the use of this technique. Vacuum swallowing is a unique method of improving pharyngeal passage of a bolus by creating strong negative pressure in the esophagus. Additional studies are necessary to determine whether vacuum swallowing can be successfully used for other forms of dysphagia.

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