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J Pediatr. 1995 Jun;126(6):923-7.

Prolonged dysphagia caused by congenital pharyngeal dysfunction.

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Service of Pediatric Neurology, St. Luc Hospital, University of Louvain Medical School, Brussels, Belgium.


We describe two patients with severe, isolated, congenital dysphagia caused by paralysis of the pharyngeal muscles, who recovered at the ages of 40 months and 20 months, respectively. No other evidence of neurologic or muscular dysfunction was present except for a transient paralysis of the adductors of the vocal cords in one child. Radiocinematographic studies showed paralysis of the pharyngeal stage of swallowing, with minimal involvement of the oral stage. One child refused oral feeding for several months after apparent radiologic recovery. Two other patients with a similar disorder died of tracheal aspiration at the ages of 8 months and 4 months, respectively. Autopsies showed no abnormality of the central nervous system, and the cranial nerves involved in swallowing were normal. Only five other well-studied cases of this syndrome have been reported. These observations demonstrate the existence of a type of severe, idiopathic, congenital dysphagia related to paralysis of the constrictor muscles of the pharynx, with a propensity to recover after several months or years if properly managed. The cause of the disorder is obscure, but it is probably related to a dysfunction of the central nervous system.

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