Involvement of upper-airway muscles in extrapyramidal disorders. A cause of airflow limitation

N Engl J Med. 1984 Aug 16;311(7):438-42. doi: 10.1056/NEJM198408163110704.


To identify the site and cause of airflow limitation in patients with parkinsonism, we tested pulmonary function in 27 patients with extrapyramidal disorders. In 24 patients, an abnormal flow-volume loop contour, showing either regular (18 patients) or irregular (6 patients) flow oscillations, was found. On direct fiberoptic visualization of the upper airway, these oscillations corresponded to either rhythmic (4 to 8 Hz) or irregular involuntary movements of glottic and supraglottic structures. Ten patients had physiologic evidence of upper-airway obstruction, which was symptomatic in four. We conclude that the upper-airway musculature is frequently involved in extrapyramidal disorders. This causes upper-airway dysfunction that can be severe enough to limit airflow.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Airway Resistance
  • Basal Ganglia Diseases / complications
  • Basal Ganglia Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Humans
  • Laryngeal Muscles / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Maximal Expiratory Flow-Volume Curves
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscles / physiopathology*
  • Parkinson Disease / complications
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology
  • Pulmonary Ventilation*
  • Respiration Disorders / etiology
  • Respiration Disorders / physiopathology
  • Tidal Volume