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Is oropharyngoesophageal scintigraphy the method of choice for assessing dysphagia in systemic sclerosis? A single center experience

Esophagus. 2023 Mar 18. doi: 10.1007/s10388-023-00995-0. Online ahead of print.


OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the performance of oropharyngoesophageal scintigraphy (OPES) in the assessment of dysphagia in patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc), and to compare OPES results with those of barium esophagogram.

METHODS: Adult SSc patients who underwent OPES for the assessment of dysphagia were enrolled. OPES was performed with both liquid and semisolid boluses and provided information regarding oropharyngeal transit time, esophageal transit time (ETT), oropharyngeal retention index (OPRI), esophageal retention index (ERI), and site of bolus retention. Barium esophagogram results were also collected.

RESULTS: Fifty-seven SSc patients (87.7% female, mean age 57.7 years) with dysphagia were enrolled. OPES identified at least one alteration in each patient and findings were generally worse for the semisolid bolus. Esophageal motility was widely impaired with 89.5% of patients with an increased semisolid ERI, and middle-lower esophagus was the most frequent site of bolus retention. However, oropharyngeal impairment was highlighted by widespread increased OPRI, especially in anti-topoisomerase I positivity. Older patients and with longer disease duration presented slower semisolid ETT (p = 0.029 and p = 0.002, respectively). Eleven patients with dysphagia had a negative barium esophagogram: all of them presented some alterations in OPES parameters.

CONCLUSION: OPES revealed a marked SSc esophageal impairment, in terms of both slowed transit time and increased bolus retention, but also shed light on oropharyngeal swallowing alterations. OPES showed high sensitivity, being able to detect swallowing alterations in dysphagic patients with negative barium esophagogram. Therefore, the use of OPES for the assessment of SSc-related dysphagia in clinical practice should be promoted.

PMID:36933137 | DOI:10.1007/s10388-023-00995-0

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