Study Objectives: Dysphagia is a common but under-recognized complication of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). However, the mechanisms remain poorly described. Accordingly, the aim of this study was to assess swallowing symptoms and use high-resolution pharyngeal manometry to quantify swallowing biomechanics in patients with moderate-severe OSA. Methods: Nineteen adults (4 female; mean (range) age, 46 ± 26-68 years) with moderate-severe OSA underwent high-resolution pharyngeal manometry testing with 5-, 10-, and 20-mL volumes of thin and extremely thick liquids. Data were compared with 19 age- and sex-matched healthy controls (mean (range) age, 46 ± 27-68 years). Symptomatic dysphagia was assessed using the Sydney Swallow Questionnaire. Swallow metrics were analyzed using the online application swallowgateway.com. General linear mixed model analysis was performed to investigate potential differences between people with moderate-severe OSA and controls. Data presented are means [95% confidence intervals]. Results: Twenty-six percent (5 of 19) of the OSA group but none of the controls reported symptomatic dysphagia (Sydney Swallow Questionnaire > 234). Compared with healthy controls, the OSA group had increased upper esophageal sphincter relaxation pressure (22  vs 2  mm Hg, F = 32.1, P <.0001), reduced upper esophageal sphincter opening (6 vs 5 mS, F = 23.6, P <.0001), and increased hypopharyngeal intrabolus pressure (2  vs 7  mm Hg, F = 19.0, P <.05). Additionally, upper pharyngeal pressures were higher, particularly at the velopharynx (88  vs 144  mm Hg_cm_s, F = 69.6, P <.0001). Conclusions: High-resolution pharyngeal manometry identified altered swallowing biomechanics in people with moderate-severe OSA, which is consistent with a subclinical presentation. Potential contributing mechanisms include upper esophageal sphincter dysfunction with associated upstream changes of increased hypopharyngeal distension pressure and velopharyngeal contractility.
- Deglutition disorders
- Patient-reported outcome measures
- Sleep apnea obstructive
- Sleep apnea syndromes