Pharyngeal Phase Dysphagia

The pharyngeal phase of the normal swallow involves reflex actions. These reflex actions are a result of the bolus making contact with the anterior faucial pillars. When this happens, four things take place:

First, the velopharyngeal port is closed off so that food or liquid does not enter the nasal cavity.

Next, the larynx is protected from food entering the airway.

Then the cricopharyngeus muscle relaxes allowing the bolus to enter. A number of problems are associated with this phase of the swallow. These problems include difficulty propelling the bolus, a delay in the swallow reflex, an improperly functioning protective mechanism allowing food or liquid to enter the nose or airway, and pooling of food residue in the pyriform sinuses or valleculae.