Oro-pharyngeal dysphagia is frequently present during the acute phase of stroke. The aim of the present study was to evaluate whether the recording of surface EMG using a nasopharyngeal (NP) electrode could be applied to evaluation of pharyngeal muscle activity in acute stroke patients and if this neurophysiological measure is related with clinical assessment of swallowing. Patients were examined and clinical severity was assessed with the National Institute of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) score; dysphagia was evaluated through bedside screening test using the Gugging Swallowing Scale (GUSS). Extension of the ischaemic lesion was measured by quantitative score, based on CT scan [Alberta Stroke Programme Early CT Score (ASPECTS)]. We analysed 70 patients; 50 were classified as dysphagic (Dys+), and 20 as non-dysphagic (Dys–). Each participant underwent a surface NP EMG recording performed with a NP electrode, made of a Teflon isolated steel catheter, with a length of 16 cm and a tip diameter of 1.5 mm. The electrode was inserted through the nasal cavity, rotated and positioned approximately 3 mm anteroinferior to the salpingo-palatine fold. At least four consecutive swallowing-induced EMG bursts were recorded and analysed for each participant. Swallowing always induced a repetitive, polyphasic burst of activation of the EMG, lasting around 0.25 to 1 sec, with an amplitude of around 100-600mV. Two parameters of the EMG potentials recorded with the NP electrode were analyzed: duration and amplitude. The duration of the EMG burst was increased in Dys+ patients with a statistically significant difference compared to Dys-patients (p < 0.001). The amplitude was slightly reduced in the Dys+ group, but statistically significant differences were not observed (p = 0,775). Nevertheless, the burst amplitude showed a significant inverse correlation with NIHSS [r(48) = –0.31; p < 0.05] and ASPECTS scores [r(48) = –0.27; p < 0.05], meaning that the burst amplitude progressively reduced with an increase of clinical severity (NIHSS) and topographic extension of brain lesions in CT (ASPECTS). These results suggest that NP recordings can give a semi-quantitative measure of swallowing difficulties originating from pharyngeal dysfunction, in fact, electromyographic findings suggest reduced pharyngeal motility.
- Acute stroke
- Nasopharyngeal electrode
- Otorhinolaryngology2734 Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- Surface EMG