Not Found

Find information on medical topics, symptoms, drugs, procedures, news and more, written in everyday language.

* This is the Consumer Version. *

Propulsion Disorders of the Throat

By Michael C. DiMarino, MD, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Department of Medicine, Thomas Jefferson University

Propulsion disorders of the throat can cause trouble moving food from the upper part of the throat into the esophagus. Such problems occur most often in people who have disorders of the throat muscles or the nerves that serve them. The most common cause is stroke. Dermatomyositis, systemic sclerosis, myasthenia gravis, muscular dystrophy, polio, pseudobulbar palsy, Parkinson disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig disease) all can affect the throat muscles or nerves. Difficulty swallowing may also result from the use of a phenothiazine (a class of antipsychotic drug), because these drugs can impair the normal function of the throat muscles. People with a propulsion disorder of the throat often regurgitate food through the back of the nose or inhale it into the windpipe (trachea), which causes them to cough.

In cricopharyngeal incoordination, the upper esophageal sphincter (cricopharyngeal muscle) remains closed, or it opens in an uncoordinated way. An abnormally functioning sphincter may allow food to repeatedly enter the windpipe and lungs, which may lead to recurring lung infections and eventually to chronic lung disease. A surgeon can cut the sphincter so that it is permanently relaxed. If left untreated, the condition may lead to the formation of a Zenker diverticulum (see Zenker diverticula), a pouch that is formed when the lining of the esophagus pushes outward and backward through the cricopharyngeal muscle.

* This is the Consumer Version. *