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Oropharyngeal dysphagia: Etiology and pathogenesis

Anthony J Lembo, MD
Section Editor
Nicholas J Talley, MD, PhD
Deputy Editor
Kristen M Robson, MD, MBA, FACG


Oropharyngeal dysphagia, also called transfer dysphagia, arises from disease of the upper esophagus and pharynx, or from upper esophageal sphincter dysfunction (table 1).

This topic will review the physiology of normal swallowing and the etiology and pathogenesis of oropharyngeal dysphagia. An overview of dysphagia; the etiology and evaluation of patients with esophageal dysphagia; the clinical features, diagnosis, and management of oropharyngeal dysphagia; the etiology, assessment, and management of swallowing disorders in palliative care populations are discussed separately. (See "Oropharyngeal dysphagia: Clinical features, diagnosis, and management" and "Approach to the evaluation of dysphagia in adults" and "Swallowing disorders and aspiration in palliative care: Definition, consequences, pathophysiology, and etiology" and "Swallowing disorders and aspiration in palliative care: Assessment and strategies for management".)


Dysphagia is defined as a subjective sensation of difficulty or abnormality of swallowing.

Dysphagia can be classified as follows:

Oropharyngeal or transfer dysphagia is characterized by difficulty initiating a swallow. Swallowing may be accompanied by nasopharyngeal regurgitation, aspiration, and a sensation of residual food remaining in the pharynx.

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Jun 02, 2015.
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