The influence of tonsillitis on oral and throat muscles in children

Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2006 May;70(5):891-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ijporl.2005.09.030. Epub 2005 Nov 22.


Objectives: Surface electromyography (sEMG) studies were performed on 80 children with acute tonsillitis (AT) and 110 children with recurrent tonsillitis (RT), age 4-12 years, to trace sEMG changes of duration and amplitude of muscle activity during swallowing and continuous drinking.

Study design: Prospective observational study of randomly chosen patients compared to normative database.

Methods: Timing and amplitude (in muV) of activity of masseter, submental and infrahyoid muscles were evaluated during voluntary single swallows of saliva ("dry" swallow), water swallows, swallows of excessive amount of water (up to 15 ml), and continuous drinking of 50 ml of water. These parameters were measured for two age groups for both conditions: 4-8 and 9-12 years old. The previously established normative database was taken for control.

Results: AT presents prolonged duration of swallowing and electric hyperactivity of infrahyoid muscles but this activity returns to normal after recovery. RT affects masseter and infrahyoid muscles even during periods of remission but do not affect duration of swallowing activity.

Conclusion: AT and RT in children age 4-12 years affects muscle activity during swallowing significantly by involving additional muscles (mainly infrahyoid) in this process. AT presents temporary electric hyperactivity of infrahyoid muscles. RT affects masseter and infrahyoid muscles even during periods of remission (pathologic changes are fixed). Abnormally high electric activity of masseter and infrahyoid muscles in patients with RT might serve as an additional indicator for tonsillectomy. Surface EMG of swallowing is a simple, non-invasive and reliable method for diagnostic and preoperative evaluation of dysphagia complaints associated with tonsillitis.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Databases as Topic
  • Deglutition / physiology*
  • Deglutition Disorders / physiopathology
  • Drinking / physiology*
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neck Muscles / physiopathology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Recurrence
  • Reference Values
  • Tonsillitis / physiopathology*