When eating food containing both liquid and solid phases (two-phase food), the liquid component frequently enters the hypopharynx before swallowing, which may increase the risk of aspiration. We therefore tested whether preswallow bolus transport and swallow initiation would change as the viscosity of two-phase food was increased. Fiberoptic endoscopy was recorded while 18 adult subjects ate 5 g of steamed rice with 3 ml of blue-dye water. Liquid viscosity was set at four levels by adding a thickening agent (0, 1, 2, and 4 wt%, respectively). We measured the timing of the leading edge of the food reaching the base of the epiglottis, as well as the location of the leading edge at swallow initiation. As viscosity increased, the leading edge of the food reached the epiglottis significantly later during chewing and was higher in the pharynx at swallow onset. The time after the leading edge reached the epiglottis did not vary among the viscosities of the two-phase food. This study found that the initial viscosity of two-phase food significantly altered oropharyngeal bolus flow and the timing of swallow initiation. Accordingly, increased two-phase food viscosity may delay food entry into the pharynx and be of use in dysphagic diets.
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