Sarcopenic Dysphagia: A Narrative Review from Diagnosis to Intervention

Nutrients. 2021 Nov 12;13(11):4043. doi: 10.3390/nu13114043.


Sarcopenia, defined as a decline in muscle mass and function related to aging, affects both limb and swallowing-related muscles. Sarcopenic dysphagia is characterized by decreased swallowing function; therefore, early detection of subclinical dysphagia and subsequent intervention appear to be crucial in the elderly. Numerous tools have been employed to measure the function, strength, and mass of swallowing-related muscles in sarcopenic elderly. The swallowing function can be evaluated by questionnaires like Eating Assessment Tool, Functional Oral Intake Scale, and Food Intake Level Scale, and tests such as the modified water swallowing test and videofluoroscopic swallowing study. Surface electromyography and high-resolution manometry can be applied for quantifying swallowing-related muscle strength. Modalities such as ultrasonography and magnetic resonance imaging are capable of estimating the swallowing muscle mass. In patients with sarcopenic dysphagia, a thorough assessment should be given followed by an integrated intervention combining swallowing muscle strengthening, nutrition support, food texture modification, physical, and occupational therapies. This article aimed to comprehensively summarize the diagnostic criteria/tools as well as their associations/performance in sarcopenic dysphagia. The intervention strategy will also be narrated in this review.

Keywords: aging; assessment; nutrition; sarcopenia; swallowing.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging
  • Deglutition / physiology
  • Deglutition Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Deglutition Disorders / therapy*
  • Electromyography / methods
  • Food
  • Humans
  • Lip
  • Muscle Strength
  • Muscles
  • Nutritional Support
  • Sarcopenia / diagnosis*
  • Sarcopenia / therapy*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Ultrasonography / methods