Hyoid bone displacement as parameter for swallowing impairment in patients treated for advanced head and neck cancer

Sophie A. C. Kraaijenga, Lisette van der Molen, Wilma D. Heemsbergen, Gawein B. Remmerswaal, Frans J. M. Hilgers, Michiel W. M. van den Brekel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review


Reduced hyoid displacement is thought to contribute to aspiration and pharyngeal residues in head and neck cancer (HNC) patients with dysphagia. To further study hyoid elevation and anterior excursion in HNC patients, this study reports on temporal/kinematic measures of hyoid displacement, with the additional goal to investigate correlations with clinical swallowing impairment. A single-blind analysis of data collected as part of a larger prospective study was performed at three time points before and after chemoradiotherapy. Twenty-five patients had undergone clinical swallowing assessments at baseline, 10-weeks, and 1-year post-treatment. Analysis of video-fluoroscopic studies was done on different swallowing consistencies of varying amounts. The studies were independently reviewed frame-by-frame by two clinicians to assess temporal (onset and duration) and kinematic (anterior/superior movement) measures of hyoid displacement (ImageJ), laryngeal penetration/aspiration, and presence of vallecula/pyriform sinus residues. Patient-reported oral intake and swallowing function were also evaluated. Mean maximum hyoid displacement ranged from 9.4 mm (23 % of C2-4 distance) to 12.6 mm (27 %) anteriorly, and from 18.9 mm (41 %) to 24.9 mm (54 %) superiorly, depending on bolus volume and consistency. Patients with reduced superior hyoid displacement perceived significantly more swallowing impairment. No correlation between delayed or reduced hyoid excursion and aspiration or residue scores could be demonstrated. Hyoid displacement is subject to variability from a number of sources. Based on the results, this parameter seems not very valuable for clinical use in HNC patients with dysphagia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)597-606
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017


  • Head and neck neoplasms
  • Dysphagia
  • Hyoid bone
  • Kinematics
  • Elevation
  • Displacement
  • Aspiration
  • Chemoradiotherapy

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