Swallowing performance following anterior cervical spine surgery

Br J Neurosurg. 1995;9(5):605-9. doi: 10.1080/02688699550040882.


The aim of this study was to assess the incidence and severity of dysphagia following anterior cervical spine surgery for cervical spondylosis. One-hundred patients were contacted 12-22 months following cervical spine surgery. Those reporting persistent swallowing impairment were invited to attend for further investigation. Of 73 respondents, 33 (45%) experienced postoperative dysphagia. This persisted for longer than 6 months in nine (12% of respondents). Of five subjects attending for investigation, none had a definite radiological abnormality. In contrast, manometry suggested hyperactivity of the pharyngo-oesophageal segment in these patients, although with normal co-ordination. Surgeons should warn of the risk of transient dysphagia in 45% of patients postoperatively and of its persistence in around 10%. Radiological examination may be normal and manometry is the investigation of choice. Persistent, severe dysphagia may be ameliorated by cricopharyngeal myotomy or pharyngeal dilatation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cervical Vertebrae / surgery*
  • Deglutition / physiology*
  • Deglutition Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / physiopathology
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / surgery
  • Male
  • Manometry
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications / physiopathology*
  • Spinal Diseases / physiopathology
  • Spinal Diseases / surgery*
  • Spondylitis, Ankylosing / physiopathology
  • Spondylitis, Ankylosing / surgery