Post-tonsillectomy dysphagia secondary to glossopharyngeal nerve injury

BMJ Case Rep. 2020 Jan 5;13(1):e232657. doi: 10.1136/bcr-2019-232657.


The glossopharyngeal nerve lies in close proximity to the tonsillar fossa making it susceptible to injury during tonsillectomy, though it is uncommonly injured in practice. We present a case of severe dysphagia due to glossopharyngeal nerve injury following tonsillectomy and demonstrate the efficacy of the McNeill Dysphagia Therapy Program (MDTP), a novel stepwise exercise-based rehabilitation program, in improving clinical outcomes. In patients with persistent, severe dysphagia following tonsillectomy, glossopharyngeal nerve injury should be on the differential diagnosis. The MDTP is one method by which clinicians may be able to treat this complex condition.

Keywords: cranial nerves; ear, nose and throat/otolaryngology; otolaryngology / ENT; physiotherapy (rehabilitation).

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Deglutition Disorders / etiology*
  • Deglutition Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Female
  • Glossopharyngeal Nerve Injuries / etiology*
  • Glossopharyngeal Nerve Injuries / rehabilitation*
  • Humans
  • Iatrogenic Disease
  • Tonsillectomy / adverse effects*