Pharyngeal electrical stimulation for dysphagia associated with multiple sclerosis: a pilot study

Brain Stimul. 2013 May;6(3):418-23. doi: 10.1016/j.brs.2012.09.001. Epub 2012 Sep 23.


Objective: Treatment options for dysphagia associated with multiple sclerosis (MS) are currently limited. In this study we investigated whether intraluminal electrical pharyngeal stimulation facilitates swallowing recovery in dysphagic MS patients.

Patients and methods: Twenty dysphagic MS patients were randomized to receive 5 Hz "real" pharyngeal stimulation (10 patients) for 10 min or "sham" pharyngeal stimulation for 10 min (10 patients). Patients were evaluated by videofluoroscopic, and electromyographic examinations, and by the Penetration/Aspiration Scale (PAS) performed before (T0) and immediately after the last session of 5 consecutive days of electrical pharyngeal stimulation (T1), and then after two (T2), and four (T3) weeks of 5 consecutive days of pharyngeal electrical stimulation.

Results: Patients who received "real" stimulation showed a significant improvement in all the swallowing outcome measures as compared with those receiving "sham" stimulation.

Conclusions: No specific treatment for oro-pharyngeal dysphagia related to MS has been described to date. Our preliminary findings suggest a potential benefit of intraluminal electrical pharyngeal stimulation for the treatment of dysphagia caused by MS.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Deglutition Disorders / etiology*
  • Deglutition Disorders / therapy*
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / methods*
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Fluoroscopy
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / complications*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / therapy
  • Pharynx / physiology*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Video Recording