An 80-year-old woman was admitted to hospital with acute anarthria and severe dysphagia, characterised by loss of voluntary control of the muscles of facial expression, mastication, bolus manipulation (tongue) and pharyngeal constriction, with relative preservation of involuntary movements. Brain imaging revealed an acute infarct in the left frontal operculum and an area of gliosis consistent with an old infarct in the right frontal operculum. A clinical and radiological diagnosis of bilateral anterior frontal opercular syndrome (Foix-Chavany-Marie-syndrome) was made.
Deglutition consists of a voluntary oral stage and an involuntary pharyngeal and oesophageal phase. As involuntary movements were relatively preserved and no sensory loss was suspected, it was hypothesised that, once initiated or triggered, pharyngeal swallowing could be adequate. This was trialled at the bedside without adverse effects and subsequently videofluoroscopy demonstrated timely laryngeal elevation and closure, adequate opening of the upper oesophageal sphincter and smooth transit of the bolus from mouth to oesophagus. Oral intake was restored within days of admission and a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy was avoided. This is the first time to the authors’ knowledge that this management approach has been described for this condition.
- cranial nerves
- parenteral / enteral feeding
- brain stem / cerebellum
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Contributors TR, TL, JM: Literature search and initial drafts. TR and TL sourced radiology imaging. TTH conducted review and contributed critical revisions to article draft before submission. TTH and TR act as joint guarantor.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent Obtained.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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