Botulinum toxin treatment for oropharyngeal dysphagia associated with diabetic neuropathy

Domenico A. Restivo, Rosario Marchese-Ragona, Giuseppe Lauria, Sebastiano Squatrito, Damiano Gullo, Riccardo Vigneri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE - No specific treatment for oropharyngeal dysphagia related to diabetic neuropathy has been described to date. Chemical myotomy of the cricopharyngeus (CP) muscle by botulinum neurotoxin type A (BoNT/A) has been effective in reducing or abolishing dysphagia associated with upper esophageal sphincter (UES) hyperactivity of different etiologies. In the present study, we evaluated the efficacy of BoNT/A injections into the CP muscle in diabetic patients with severe oropharyngeal dysphagia associated with diabetic autonomic and/or somatic peripheral neuropathy. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS - Twelve type 2 diabetic patients with severe dysphagia for both solid and liquid foods associated with autonomic and/or peripheral somatic neuropathy were investigated. Swallowing function was evaluated by clinical examination, videofluoroscopy, and simultaneous needle electromyography (EMG) of the CP and pharyngeal inferior constrictor (IC) muscles. Clinical evaluation using a four-level dysphagia severity score was performed every other day for the 1st week and thereafter every other week until week 24. Videofluoroscopy and EMG follow-up were carried out at week 1, 4, 12, 16, 18, and 24 after BoNT/A injection. BoNT/A was injected percutaneously into the CP muscle under EMG control. RESULTS - BoNT/A induced the complete recovery of dysphagia in 10 patients and had a significant (P = 0.0001, ANOVA) improvement in 2 patients within 4 ± 1.1 days (range 3-7). Clinical improvement was confirmed by videofluoroscopy and EMG. CONCLUSIONS - Our findings suggest a potential benefit from BoNT/A treatment in dysphagia associated with diabetic neuropathy. Randomized controlled trials are needed to confirm this observation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2650-2653
Number of pages4
JournalDiabetes Care
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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