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Folia Phoniatr Logop. 2013;65(3):154-68. doi: 10.1159/000355562. Epub 2013 Dec 12.

Electrical stimulation in treatment of pharyngolaryngeal dysfunctions.

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  • 1Department of Phoniatrics and Pediatric Audiology, Hanover Medical School, Hanover, Germany.



Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) has been proposed in the treatment of laryngopharyngeal dysfunctions (dysphonia, dyspnoea, dysphagia) for more than 40 years. Several studies have investigated possible therapeutic effects. Some researchers described favourable results, whereas others did not find relevant benefits. This article aims to review available studies to give an overview regarding the current state of knowledge.


We conducted a selective literature search using PubMed.


In total, 356 papers were identified: 6 case reports, 11 reviews, 43 prospective clinical trials and 3 retrospective trials were found.


Due to different stimulation protocols, electrode positioning and various underlying pathological conditions, summarizing the present studies appears to be difficult. However, there is evidence that NMES is a valuable adjunct in patients with dysphagia and in patients with vocal fold paresis. Nevertheless, more empirical data is needed to fully understand the benefits provided by NMES. Further research suggestions are put forward.

© 2013 S. Karger AG, Basel.

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