Diagnosis and treatment of bulbar symptoms in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Nat Clin Pract Neurol. 2008 Jul;4(7):366-74. doi: 10.1038/ncpneuro0853. Epub 2008 Jun 17.


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is the most common neurodegenerative disease of the motor system. Bulbar symptoms such as dysphagia and dysarthria are frequent features of ALS and can result in reductions in life expectancy and quality of life. These dysfunctions are assessed by clinical examination and by use of instrumented methods such as fiberendoscopic evaluation of swallowing and videofluoroscopy. Laryngospasm, another well-known complication of ALS, commonly comes to light during intubation and extubation procedures in patients undergoing surgery. Laryngeal and pharyngeal complications are treated by use of an array of measures, including body positioning, compensatory techniques, voice and breathing exercises, communication devices, dietary modifications, various safety strategies, and neuropsychological assistance. Meticulous monitoring of clinical symptoms and close cooperation within a multidisciplinary team (physicians, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, dietitians, caregivers, the patients and their relatives) are vital.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / complications
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / diagnosis*
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / therapy*
  • Bulbar Palsy, Progressive / complications
  • Bulbar Palsy, Progressive / diagnosis
  • Bulbar Palsy, Progressive / therapy
  • Deglutition Disorders / complications
  • Deglutition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Deglutition Disorders / therapy
  • Dysarthria / complications
  • Dysarthria / diagnosis
  • Dysarthria / therapy
  • Humans
  • Speech Disorders / complications
  • Speech Disorders / diagnosis
  • Speech Disorders / therapy
  • Treatment Outcome