Assessment of the Food-Swallowing Process Using Bolus
The characteristics of the flows of boluses with different consistencies, i.e. different rheological properties, through the pharynx have not been fully elucidated. The results obtained using a novel in vitro device, the Gothenburg Throat, which allows simultaneous bolus flow visualisation and manometry assessments in the pharynx geometry, are presented, to explain the dependence of bolus flow on bolus consistency. Four different bolus consistencies of a commercial food thickener, 0.5, 1, 1.5 and 2 Pa s (at a shear rate of 50 s−1)—corresponding to a range from low honey-thick to pudding-thick consistencies on the National Dysphagia Diet (NDD) scale—were examined in the in vitro pharynx. The bolus velocities recorded in the simulator pharynx were in the range of 0.046–0.48 m/s, which is within the range reported in clinical studies. The corresponding wall shear rates associated with these velocities ranged from 13 s−1 (pudding consistency) to 209 s−1 (honey-thick consistency). The results of the in vitro manometry tests using different consistencies and bolus volumes were rather similar to those obtained in clinical studies. The in vitro device used in this study appears to be a valuable tool for pre-clinical analyses of thickened fluids. Furthermore, the results show that it is desirable to consider a broad range of shear rates when assessing the suitability of a certain consistency for swallowing.