Background: Dysphagia is a common symptom in myasthenia gravis (MG). Clinical examination alone fails to detect and grade myasthenic dysphagia sufficiently. For a more precise examination of swallowing function in myasthenia gravis additional technical tools are necessary.
Objective: To investigate the diagnostic and therapeutic impact of fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing with simultaneous Tensilon application (FEES-Tensilon Test) in myasthenia gravis.
Methods: FEES-Tensilon Test was performed following a standardized protocol. Four severely affected patients with dysphagia as their leading symptom were examined. Dysphagia was characterized by five salient endoscopic findings: leakage, delayed swallowing reflex, penetration, aspiration and residues. If a normalisation or at least an improvement of swallowing function occurred shortly after Tensilon administration the FEES-Tensilon Test was rated as being positive.
Results: In three patients the FEES-Tensilon Test successfully detected MG-related dysphagia. In one patient with dysphagia caused by oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy the FEES-Tensilon Test was truly negative. Beside an early diagnosis of MG-related dysphagia, the FEES-Tensilon Test was useful in the differentiation between myasthenic and cholinergic crisis and in guiding treatment decisions. In all patients the FEES-Tensilon Test was superior to clinical evaluation of dysphagia. No severe side effect occurred while performing the FEES-Tensilon Test.
Conclusion: The FEES-Tensilon Test is a suitable tool in the diagnosis and therapy of myasthenia gravis with pharyngeal muscles weakness.