Characterization of Laryngopharyngeal Reflux in the Elderly Population.

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INTRODUCTION: Laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR) often is not diagnosed due to its presentation without heartburn. The aim of this study was to analyze the signs and symptoms of elderly patients undergoing treatment for LPR using subjective as well as objective measures including strobovideolaryngoscopies, 24-hour pH studies, and manometry to highlight appropriate considerations for diagnosis and treatment.

METHODS: This was a retrospective review of patients with laryngopharyngeal reflux who were seen from January 2010 to February 2021 in the practice of the senior author (Robert T. Sataloff) who had undergone 24-hour pH testing, and for whom all data were available. Patients aged 60 years and older were considered elderly and compared to patients younger than 40 and between the ages of 40 and 59. However, patients in their 60s, 70s, and 80s were evaluated and compared separately. Objective reflux findings, 24-hour pH studies, and manometry were compared between groups.

RESULTS: Two hundred and eighty-eight patients being treated for LPR were included, 100 of whom were over the age of 60. While 94.1% of patients younger than 40 had a chief complaint of hoarseness, 71% percent of those aged 60 and older complained of hoarseness. Patients aged 60 and older were more likely to present with no voice complaint as their age increased (P = 0.001). Lower esophageal sphincter residual pressure was 12.15 ± 6.28 in elderly patients compared to 4.90 ± 3.38 in patients younger than 40 (P < 0.001). Upper esophageal sphincter (UES) basal pressure was decreased in elderly patients at 83.84 ± 50.53 compared to 105.92 ± 51.49 in patients younger than 60 or younger (P = 0.029). Older patients in their 70s and 80s also had lower UES basal pressures at 75.79 ± 47.66 and 63.45 ± 14.50 (P = 0.003). Additionally, while 71.4% of patients younger than 40 had normal esophageal motility (Chicago classification v4), only 40% of elderly patients had normal esophageal motility (P < 0.001). More severe ventricular obliteration also was present in elderly patients compared to non-elderly patients (P = 0.032), and thick endolaryngeal mucus was less likely to be present in elderly patients (P = 0.007). Reflux finding score differed between age groups with patients aged less than 40 scoring 14.78 ± 2.5, 40-59 year olds scoring 15.83 ± 2.13 and patients 60 and older scoring 15.48 ± 2.43 (P = 0.018).

CONCLUSION: Elderly patients diagnosed with LPR have different presentations of the disease compared with younger patients.


This article was published in Journal of Voice.

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Copyright © 2024 The Voice Foundation.

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Journal of Voice

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