In bulbar poliomyelitis one of the serious complications is the inability to swallow. Not only is the patient unable to take food normally, but he is unable to dispose of his oral and nasopharyngeal secretions. These secretions are often aspirated. When this condition is combined, as it often is, with an absent or decreased cough reflex, tracheotomy is necessary so that the aspirated material may be removed by suction. Frequent attacks of atelectasis occur, requiring bronchoscopy for aspirations of the plugs.
The occurrence of this condition in bulbar poliomyelitis is very common. Fortunately most of the cases improve. There are a considerable number that do not improve and are left seriously crippled. Not only do they have to be fed by nasogastric tube or gastrostomy, but they also have to wear a permanent tracheotomy tube. There are cases that overcome the difficulty in time. There have been improvements as long
KAPLAN S. Paralysis of the Swallowing Mechanism Following Bulbar Poliomyelitis: Surgical Restoration of Function. AMA Arch Otolaryngol. 1957;65(5):495–498. doi:10.1001/archotol.1957.03830230071013
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