Swallowing Kinematic Differences Across Frozen, Mixed, and Ultrathin Liquid Boluses in Healthy Adults: Age, Sex, and Normal Variability

J Speech Lang Hear Res. 2018 Jul 13;61(7):1544-1559. doi: 10.1044/2018_JSLHR-S-17-0417.


Purpose: The aim of this study was to examine the effects of frozen and mixed-consistency boluses on the swallowing physiology of younger and older adults. We also aimed to quantify factors that lead to increased variability in swallowing outcomes (i.e., age, sex, bolus type).

Method: Forty-one healthy adults (18-85 years old) swallowed 5 blocks of 5 different boluses: 10-ml ultrathin liquid, a teaspoon of iced barium, a teaspoon of room-temperature pudding, a teaspoon of frozen pudding, and ultrathin barium with chocolate chips. All data were recorded with videofluoroscopy and underwent detailed timing kinematic measurements.

Results: Neither barium ice nor frozen pudding sped up swallow responses. Many healthy adults initiated swallowing with the bolus as deep as the pyriform sinuses. Swallowing temporal kinematics for ultrathin liquid consistencies are most different from all others tested, requiring the best possible physiological swallowing performance in younger and older healthy individuals (i.e., faster reaction times, longer durations) compared with other bolus types tested. In each measure, older adults had significantly longer durations compared with the younger adults. More variability in swallowing kinematics were seen with age and laryngeal vestibule kinematics.

Conclusion: This study provides important contributions to the literature by clarifying normal variability within a wide range of swallowing behaviors and by providing normative data from which to compare disordered populations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cohort Studies
  • Deglutition / physiology*
  • Esophagus / physiology
  • Female
  • Fluoroscopy
  • Humans
  • Larynx / physiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pharynx / physiology
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Video Recording
  • Viscosity
  • Young Adult