Relationship of cervical spine disorders to dysphagia

Elias A. Zerhouni, James F. Bosma, Martin W. Donner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Extrinsic esophageal compression by cervical osteophytes as a cause of dysphagia was first reported by Zahn in 1905. Yet, despite the high incidence of osteophytes of the cervical spine, dysphagia secondary to degenerative disease of the cervical spine is very uncommon. In a review of 116 cases of degenerative arthritis of the cervical spine requiring therapy, dysphagia was documented in only 7 (Saffouri and Ward 1974). In a review of 1,200 patients with dysphagia, none demonstrated dysphagia due to cervical spine disease (Leroux 1962). The attribution of dysphagia to a cervical spine abnormality should therefore be made with extreme caution. Objective evidence of impairment of pharyngeal function by the cervical abnormality should always be sought. Critical evaluation of dynamic studies of swallow by motion recording radiographic techniques can provide such evidence. This report presents our findings in a series of patients with cervical spine disorders evaluated in the Johns Hopkins Swallowing Center over a 2 year period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-144
Number of pages16
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 1987


  • Cervical spine
  • Cineradiography
  • Dysphagia
  • Swallowing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Speech and Hearing


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