Neurogenic dysphagia (ND) can occur in patients with nervous system diseases of varying etiologies. Moreover, recovery from ND is not guaranteed. The therapeutic approaches for oropharyngeal ND have drastically changed over the last decade, mainly due to a better knowledge of the neurophysiology of swallowing along with the progress of neuroimaging and neurophysiological studies. For this reason, it is a priority to develop a treatment that is repeatable, safe, and can be carried out at the bedside as well as for outpatients. Pharyngeal electrical stimulation (PES) is a novel rehabilitation treatment for ND. PES is carried out via location-specific intraluminal catheters that are introduced transnasally and enable clinicians to stimulate the pharynx directly. This technique has demonstrated increasingly promising evidence in improving swallowing performance in patients with ND associated with stroke and multiple sclerosis, probably by increasing the corticobulbar excitability and inducing cortical reorganization of swallowing motor cortex. In this article, we update the reader as to both the physiologic background and past and current studies of PES in an effort to highlight the clinical progress of this important technique.
Keywords: catheter; neurogenic dysphagia; pharyngeal electrical stimulation; pharynx; swallowing; swallowing motor cortex.