The Impact of Dysphagia in Myositis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

J Clin Med. 2020 Jul 8;9(7):2150. doi: 10.3390/jcm9072150.


(1) Background: Dysphagia is a clinical hallmark and part of the current American College of Rheumatology/European League Against Rheumatism (ACR/EULAR) diagnostic criteria for idiopathic inflammatory myopathy (IIM). However, the data on dysphagia in IIM are heterogenous and partly conflicting. The aim of this study was to conduct a systematic review on epidemiology, pathophysiology, outcome and therapy and a meta-analysis on the prevalence of dysphagia in IIM. (2) Methods: Medline was systematically searched for all relevant articles. A random effect model was chosen to estimate the pooled prevalence of dysphagia in the overall cohort of patients with IIM and in different subgroups. (3) Results: 234 studies were included in the review and 116 (10,382 subjects) in the meta-analysis. Dysphagia can occur as initial or sole symptom. The overall pooled prevalence estimate in IIM was 36% and with 56% particularly high in inclusion body myositis. The prevalence estimate was significantly higher in patients with cancer-associated myositis and with NXP2 autoantibodies. Dysphagia is caused by inflammatory involvement of the swallowing muscles, which can lead to reduced pharyngeal contractility, cricopharyngeal dysfunction, reduced laryngeal elevation and hypomotility of the esophagus. Swallowing disorders not only impair the quality of life but can lead to serious complications such as aspiration pneumonia, thus increasing mortality. Beneficial treatment approaches reported include immunomodulatory therapy, the treatment of associated malignant diseases or interventional procedures targeting the cricopharyngeal muscle such as myotomy, dilatation or botulinum toxin injections. (4) Conclusion: Dysphagia should be included as a therapeutic target, especially in the outlined high-risk groups.

Keywords: aspiration; dysphagia; inflammatory idiopathic myopathy; myositis; pneumonia.

Publication types

  • Review