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Am J Speech Lang Pathol. 2011 Nov;20(4):262-8. doi: 10.1044/1058-0360(2011/10-0097). Epub 2011 Aug 3.

The utility of pitch elevation in the evaluation of oropharyngeal Dysphagia: preliminary findings.

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William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital,Madison, WI, USA.



To evaluate the utility of a pitch elevation task in the assessment of oropharyngeal dysphagia.


This study was a pilot prospective cohort study including 40 consecutive patients (16 male and 24 female) who were referred by their physician for a swallowing evaluation. Patients were evaluated with a noninstrumental clinical examination and a videofluoroscopic swallow study, and participated in a pitch elevation task during videofluoroscopic image acquisition. Relationships between pitch elevation measurements (acoustic and perceptual) and swallow parameters (penetration/aspiration and residue) were investigated.


Results of this pilot study revealed that both maximum fundamental frequency (F(0)) and perceptual evaluation of pitch elevation independently significantly predicted Penetration-Aspiration Scale scores for thin liquid swallows (p = .01 and .03, respectively). Vocal range (average pitch to falsetto) was not sensitive in predicting likelihood of oropharyngeal dysphagia.


Findings indicate that reduced pitch elevation can be indicative of reduced airway protection and swallowing impairment in some dysphagia patients and may be a useful supplement to dysphagia screening and diagnosis. Further investigation is warranted to determine the optimal utility of this procedure for different diagnostic categories of patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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