Research Article  |   November 2011
The Utility of Pitch Elevation in the Evaluation of Oropharyngeal Dysphagia: Preliminary Findings
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Georgia A. Malandraki
    William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital, Madison, WI
  • Jacqueline A. Hind
    William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital, Madison, WI
  • Ronald Gangnon
    University of Wisconsin—Madison
  • Jeri A. Logemann
    Northwestern University, Evanston, IL
  • JoAnne Robbins
    William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital, Madison, WI
  • Correspondence to Georgia A. Malandraki: malandraki@tc.columbia.edu
  • Editor: Carol Scheffner Hammer
    Editor: Carol Scheffner Hammer×
  • Associate Editor: Julie Liss
    Associate Editor: Julie Liss×
Swallowing, Dysphagia & Feeding Disorders / Special Populations / Research Article
Research Article   |   November 2011
The Utility of Pitch Elevation in the Evaluation of Oropharyngeal Dysphagia: Preliminary Findings
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology November 2011, Vol.20, 262-268. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2011/10-0097)
History: Accepted 22 May 2011 , Received 10 Nov 2010 , Revised 05 Apr 2011
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology November 2011, Vol.20, 262-268. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2011/10-0097)
History: Accepted 22 May 2011 , Received 10 Nov 2010 , Revised 05 Apr 2011

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

Method: 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: Results of this pilot study revealed that both maximum fundamental frequency (F0) 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.

Conclusions: 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.

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