Reduced Coordination of Hyolaryngeal Elevation and Bolus Movement in a Pig Model of Preterm Infant Swallowing


Preterm infants often have dysphagia. Because reducing lifetime cumulative exposure to radiation in the context of diagnosis and treatment is a continuing goal of all medical fields which use X-ray imaging, efforts exist to reduce reliance on the gold standard diagnostic tool for dysphagia, VFSS. Alternatives, such as video of external hyolaryngeal movement using video recordings of the anterior surface of the neck, must be evaluated and validated against videofluoroscopy, a task for which non-human animal models are appropriate. In this study, we tested the hypotheses that (1) swallows could be identified equally well from video of external hyolaryngeal movement and bolus movement in videofluoroscopy, and that (2) the two measures would be tightly temporally linked in both term and preterm infant pigs. We recorded 222 swallows in simultaneous and precisely synchronized high-speed videofluoroscopy and high-speed camera films of 4 preterm and 3 term infant pigs drinking milk from a bottle. In term pigs, the two measures consistently identified the same swallows in each image stream. However, in preterm pigs there was a high rate of false positives (~ 10% per feeding sequence) and false negatives (~ 27% per feeding sequence). The timing of hyolaryngeal elevation (external video) and bolus movement (videofluoroscopy) was correlated and consistent in terms pigs, but not in preterm pigs. Magnitude of hyolaryngeal elevation was less in preterm pig swallows than term pig swallows. Absence of epiglottal inversion in preterm pigs was not linked to variation in the timing of the two swallow events. Video of external hyolaryngeal movement, though a reliable swallow indicator in term infant pigs, was unreliable in preterm infant pigs. The coordination of swallowing events differs in preterm and term infant pigs. More research is needed into the distinctive biomechanics of preterm infant pigs.

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Grant support: NIH R01 HD088561 was provided to Rebecca German.

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Correspondence to François D. H. Gould.

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Catchpole, E., Bond, L., German, R. et al. Reduced Coordination of Hyolaryngeal Elevation and Bolus Movement in a Pig Model of Preterm Infant Swallowing. Dysphagia 35, 334–342 (2020).

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  • Deglutition
  • Dysphagia
  • Premature
  • Biomechanics
  • Pig