Measuring frequency of spontaneous swallowing

Australas Phys Eng Sci Med. 2007 Dec;30(4):313-7.


A new multi-sensory non-invasive portable system capable of detecting spontaneous swallowing in a patient population has been developed. Swallowing signals are recorded via Electromyogram (voltage potentials generated by throat muscles), an accelerometer (laryngeal elevations) and a microphone (cervical auscultation) affixed to the neck at the coniotomy region. Simultaneous signal comparison of all three modalities provides a vastly more reliable measure of swallowing frequency by rejecting artefacts associated with speech, body movement, coughing and background intereferences. The operational accuracy of the system was validated by a hand-held manual counter on a healthy subject undertaking everyday activities. Preliminary results showed a recorded mean spontaneous swallowing frequency of 1.32 swallows/minute and a slighly higher mean voluntary swallowing frequency of 1.52 swallows/minute with the intake of 100 ml of water. The device was able to detect 94.3% of dry swallows correctly, with each sensor responding differently to various noise interferences. The proposed system has potential to provide additional diagnostic information in clinical research of possible physiological problems associated with an abnormal swallowing frequency across a range of medical fields.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Acceleration
  • Auscultation / instrumentation
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biophysical Phenomena
  • Biophysics
  • Deglutition / physiology*
  • Electromyography / instrumentation
  • Equipment Design
  • Humans
  • Larynx / physiology
  • Neck
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted