Prevalence of profound laryngeal sensory neuropathy in head and neck cancer survivors with feeding tube-dependent oropharyngeal dysphagia

Omid B. Mehdizadeh, Shumon I. Dhar, Lisa Evangelista, Nogah Nativ-Zeltzer, Arnaud F. Bewley, Peter C. Belafsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Laryngopharyngeal sensory neuropathy (LSN) has been observed to be a contributing factor to swallowing dysfunction in head and neck cancer (HNC) survivors. Methods: Retrospective review of 43 tube-dependent HNC survivors was conducted. LSN was assessed with direct palpation of the aryepiglottic fold and by traversing the true vocal folds without eliciting a cough reflex with a flexible laryngoscope. Results: The primary tumor sites were oropharynx (51%), larynx (14%), nasopharynx (4.7%), oral cavity (14%), thyroid (4.7%), unknown primary (9.3%), and esophagus (2.3%). The prevalence of profound LSN was 79.1%. Objective fluoroscopic parameters contributing to swallowing dysfunction were diminished laryngohyoid elevation (100%), pharyngeal weakness (67%), and reduced lateral PES opening (37%). Conclusions: The prevalence of LSN in HNC survivors with feeding tube-dependent dysphagia is high (79.1%). The data suggest that LSN, in addition to fibrosis, pharyngoesophageal stenosis, and cranial nerve motor deficits contributes to swallowing dysfunction in these patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalHead and Neck
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019



  • dysphagia
  • feeding tube
  • neuropathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology

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