Ann Rehabil Med Search


Ann Rehabil Med > Volume 43(1); 2019 > Article
Choi, Jo, Kim, Do, Kwon, and Park: Characteristics and Clinical Course of Dysphagia Caused by Anterior Cervical Osteophyte



To investigate swallowing characteristics of patients with dysphagia caused by anterior cervical osteophytes (ACOs) and compare clinical courses according to treatment options.


A retrospective analysis of 1,866 videofluoroscopic swallowing studies (VFSS) of patients with ACOs from electronic medical records was performed. Patients with other diseases that could explain the dysphagia were excluded. Dysphagia characteristics and severity and clinical and radiological characteristics of subjects with ACOs were evaluated. Dysphagia characteristics and clinical course were compared among three treatment groups: surgical treatment, swallowing rehabilitation, and conservative treatment.


Subjects were 22 men and 1 woman with a mean age of 78.69±8.01 years. The mean osteophyte thickness was 9.07±3.84 mm. It was significantly thicker in the surgical group than that in other groups (p=0.01). ACOs were most frequently found at C5 level. This level also had the thickest osteophytes. However, videofluoroscopic dysphagia scales (VDS) were not significantly different among the three treatment groups. The pharyngeal phase score of the VDS was significantly higher in the surgical group (p=0.041). Dysphagia severity was decreased significantly in the surgical group at 3 months after the initial VFSS (p=0.004).


The main swallowing characteristics in patients with ACOs were dysphagia features of the pharyngeal phase, including inappropriate airway protection, decreased laryngeal elevation, and reduced epiglottis inversion. When determining treatment options, it may be helpful to consider dysphagia severity at pharyngeal phase and osteophyte thickness.


Spinal osteophytosis is a common disease in the elderly population. More than 75% of people over 65 years old have age-related changes in cervical vertebra anatomy [1]. There are various causes for the development of anterior cervical osteophytes (ACOs). The majority of cervical osteophytes occur due to degenerative diseases. Other causes for the development of anterior osteophytes include diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH), failure of surgery, adjacent segmental instabilities after fusion, heterotopic ossification after cervical disc arthroplasty, and posttraumatic instabilities [2,3]. Most of the time, an ACO does not present with any accompanying symptoms. However, prominent ACOs can cause dysphonia, dyspnea, dysphagia, and pain [4]. Dysphagia is the most common presentation of symptomatic ACOs [3]. According to Granville et al. [5], 10.6% of people presenting with dysphagia have cervical osteophytes. According to Utsinger et al. [6], 17% of patients with cervical osteophytosis develop dysphagia.
ACOs could be isolated or diffuse. They are most often idiopathic as a part of the disease entity called DISH [1]. DISH is characterized radiologically by flowing calcification along anterolateral sides of contiguous vertebrae of the spine [7]. Secondary dysphagia due to DISH has been frequently described in case reports [2]. There are no treatment guidelines for dysphagia induced by ACOs. Several cases have described the effect of surgical management on symptomatic osteophytes [3]. However, evidence for surgical approach remains insufficient.
The aim of this study was to analyze swallowing characteristics of dysphagic patients with ACOs and compare clinical courses according to different treatment options.


Subjects and study design

This was a retrospective study of 1,866 patients who had dysphagia with videofluoroscopic swallowing study (VFSS) at Inje University Haeundae Paik Hospital from April 2014 to December 2017. Eligibility criteria were: (1) patients who had VFSS performed for evaluation of dysphagia and (2) those with ACOs of the cervical spine confirmed by radiologic study. Patients with brain lesions, neuromuscular disease, or other causes that could explain their dysphagia were excluded. A total of 1,866 patients who had VFSS were identified in the electronic medical record (EMR) and reviewed. Twenty-three patients met the eligibility criteria. These 23 patients were enrolled and classified into three groups. Patients who underwent surgery for ACOs were classified into group A (n=4). Those who received swallowing rehabilitation were assigned into group B (n=9) and those who received conservative treatment were classified into group C (n=10). Conservative treatment included diet modification and medications such as muscle relaxants and antiinflammatories [2]. This study was performed according to the Declaration of Helsinki. It was approved by the Institutional Review Board of Inje University Haeundae Paik Hospital (No. 2016-12-013). Subject enrollment and flow are shown in Fig. 1.

Swallowing and ACO assessment

A VFSS was performed by two medical doctors and one occupational therapist. Patients were seated upright on a fluoroscopy chair or wheelchair. The protocol of VFSS in Inje University Haeundae Paik Hospital started with a lateral scout neck image, including cervical spine. The image was taken on the lateral plane and included lips anterior to the vertebrae and the soft palate superior to the 6th cervical vertebra [8]. Barium sulfate powder was used for fluorescence and mixed with either water, liquid diet (water rice gruel), soft diet (rice gruel), or solid diet (rice). Each type of barium diet was then swallowed by the patient. Imaging was then recorded. The anterior-posterior view was also assessed. Two physiatrists analyzed VFSS results. If the patient visibly aspirated on the videofluoroscopy, they did not progress to the next test diet.
In this study, ACO or DISH was well visualized on scout images of VFSS and on plain lateral radiographs of the cervical spine. Radiologic findings of ACO were also assessed by two physiatrists. The affected level(s) and the thickest level of ACO were identified. The thickness of the most prominent ACO was measured. ACOs were classified into three types: segmental, continuous, and mixed [9].

Outcome measurements

Demographic and clinical dysphagia characteristics, dysphagia severity, and VFSS findings of subjects were evaluated. Swallowing characteristics and clinical courses were compared among the three treatment groups. Clinical characteristics related to swallowing were measured using numerical (from 0 to 100) clinical dysphagia scale (CDS) [9]. Dysphagia severity was assessed using the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association National Outcomes Measurement System (ASHA NOMS) swallowing scale and the videofluoroscopic dysphagia scale (VDS). VDS is a numerical scale (from 0 to 100) that measures VFSS findings as objective, quantitative scores directly converted from physiologic parameters of the VFSS [10]. It was created using prognostic factors known to be reliable, objective, and quantifiable predictors of long-term persistent dysphagia after stroke [11]. It has been previously noted that the VDS is a useful scale for quantifying the severity of dysphagia in various disease and age groups [10].
Each parameter of VDS was used to compare VFSS findings. The VDS consisted of two phases: oral phase and pharyngeal phase. Scores and parameters of each phase were compared among the three groups. Temporal parameters such as oral transit time (OTT), pharyngeal delay time (PDT), and pharyngeal transit time (PTT) were also measured and compared. Definitions of above parameters have been published previously [12]. In addition, clinical courses were compared among the three groups using the ASHA NOMS swallowing scale and VDS scores at 3 months after the initial VFSS.

Correlations between treatment options and various characteristics of patients

As mentioned above, subjects were divided into three groups: those who received surgery (group A), patients who participated in swallowing rehabilitation (group B), and those who opted for conservative treatment (group C). Various characteristics suspected to be associated with these treatment options in these dysphagic patients with ACOs were investigated. Patients’ demographics, clinical swallowing characteristics, radiologic findings, dysphagia severity, and VFSS findings were used to analyze their correlations with treatment options.

Statistical analysis

Data analyses were performed using SPSS version 18.0 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA). Sociodemographic, osteophyte-specific, and swallowing characteristics of subjects were analyzed using descriptive statistics that included frequency, percentage, and mean±standard deviation. To compare gender, clinical dysphagic symptoms, comorbidity, and osteophyte level, Pearson chi-square and Fisher exact tests were used. When comparing three groups, one-way ANOVA or Kruskal-Wallis test was used depending on the normality of data distribution. If necessary, post-hoc analysis (Scheffe) was done. Spearman rank correlation analysis was also performed to identify correlation of treatment options with other characteristics. All tests were two-tailed and a p-value of less than 0.05 was considered statistically significant.


Demographic and clinical characteristics of patients

Demographics and clinical characteristics of ACO patients are summarized in Table 1. This study included 22 men and 1 woman. Their mean age was 78.69±8.01 years (range, 62–89 years). Average dysphagia symptom duration was 96.91±205.19 days. In group A, 3 patients had DISH-induced ACO and 1 patient had cervical osteoarthritis (OA). In group B, DISH was observed in 5 patients whereas cervical OA was noted in the other 4 patients. Likewise, in group C, 3 patients had DISH whereas the remaining 7 patients had cervical OA. No significant difference in the etiology was found among the three groups (p=0.298).
The most common CDS findings included inadequate laryngeal elevation (87.0%), aspiration (69.6%), and reflex coughing (60.9%). Lip sealing and tongue protrusion in oral function were intact in 87.0% and 60.9% of subjects, respectively. In the surgical group, all subjects maintained their oral function. The most commonly associated symptom was choking, followed by aspiration pneumonia. There was no significant intergroup difference in age, gender, symptom duration, or other combined symptoms and comorbidities. The most common comorbid conditions were arthritis, hypertension, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and coronary artery disease. All subjects had arthritis.

Radiologic findings of ACO

Of 23 patients, C5 (n=20) was the most commonly affected level, followed by C6 (n=18), and C4 (n=16). In group A, all patients had osteophytes at levels C3, C4, and C5. In groups B and C, C5 and C5-6 levels were the most commonly affected. There were no intergroup differences in most affected levels. The level with the thickest osteophytes was C5 (n=8), followed by C6 (n=6) and C4 (n=5). Level C4 was the thickest level in group A. It had a significant intergroup difference (p=0.009). The mean osteophyte thickness was 9.07±3.84 mm (range, 3–18 mm). Average thicknesses of groups A, B, and C were 13.13 mm, 7.83 mm and 8.55 mm, respectively. Osteophytes in group A were significantly thicker than those in the other groups (p=0.01). Overall, 9 cases were classified as segmental type ACOs, 7 cases as continuous type, and 7 cases as mixed type ACOs. The type of osteophytes and the number of affected levels showed no significant intergroup difference (Table 2).

Dysphagia severity and swallowing characteristics in patients with ACO

The mean CDS score showed no significant inter-group difference (45.00±26.77 in group A vs. 43.44±14.81 in group B vs. 32.5±15.1 in group C). With all patients included, mean ASHA NOMS swallowing scale and VDS scores were 2.17±1.58 and 40.04±10.06, respectively. Dysphagia severity showed no significant inter-group difference in ASHA NOMS swallowing scale (2.25±0.83 in group A vs. 1.44±1.25 in group B vs. 2.90±1.64 in group C) or VDS (53.13±6.66 in group A vs. 49.22±9.35 in group B vs. 44.85±14.37 in group C). However, the pharyngeal phase score of the VDS showed significant intergroup difference (p=0.041). The pharyngeal phase score of group A was higher than that of group C. The most common VFSS finding included penetration (100%), decreased laryngeal elevation (91.3%), and reduced epiglottis inversion (87.0%). In group A, all patients showed incomplete upper esophageal sphincter (UES) opening in addition to the above findings, with residue in the valleculae and pyriform sinuses. Incomplete UES opening had a significant intergroup difference (p=0.016). However, temporal parameter such as OTT, PDT, or PTT showed no significant inter-group difference (Table 3).

Clinical courses in dysphagic patients with ACO

Of the 23 ACO patients, 4 underwent surgical intervention. After surgery, 3 patients who could not swallow anything safely were able to eat orally. The remaining patient improved from level 4 to level 7 in ASHA NOMS swallowing scale. In all three groups, there were no significant intra-group differences in ASHA NOMS swallowing scale after treatment. However, group A showed a trend toward statistically significant improvement (p=0.059). Followup evaluation using ASHA NOMS swallowing scale demonstrated a significant inter-group difference (p=0.009). The score of group A was increased more than that in the other two groups. Dysphagia severity according to ASHA NOMS swallowing scale after treatment also showed inter-group differences between group with surgical treatment and groups without surgical treatment (p=0.047).
Ten patients underwent follow-up VFSS at 3 months after the initial procedure. The mean change in VDS score was 27.0±6.36 for group A, 1.9±8.61 for group B, and 1.5±6.87 for group C, showing significant inter-group difference (p=0.014). In post-hoc analysis, group A showed significant change in the follow-up VDS score than the other groups (Table 4). Two patients in the surgical group underwent follow-up VFSS. After surgical treatment, their pharyngeal phase scores were decreased by 16.5 and 31.5, respectively. Based on VDS item, the amount of residue in the pyriform sinus was decreased. Moreover, aspiration and penetration showed improvement.

Correlations between treatment options and various characteristics in patients with ACO

C3 osteophyte level, pharyngeal phase score of VDS, inadequate bolus formation, reduced epiglottis inversion, and incomplete UES opening showed significant correlations with treatment options. The correlation between pharyngeal phase score of VDS and treatment options was the largest, followed by incomplete UES opening and C3 osteophyte level (Table 5).


In this study, 22 of 23 patients (96%) were males. Their mean age was 78.7 years. A meta-analysis study of 204 cases by Verlaan et al. [13] has reported that the maleto-female ratio of ACO incidence is 6.1:1 and the average age is 68.9 years. Kim et al. [14] have reported that ACOs occur more frequently in men and that the average age at onset is 66 years. This is generally consistent with our study demographics. ACOs were reported in 2.9% to 4.1% of adults in Korea [14]. Its prevalence is known to increase with age [14]. Seidler et al. [15] have found that the dysphagic symptom severity increases with age. Because life expectancy is increasing, the prevalence of dysphagia due to ACOs may also increase in the coming decades [14].
Spondylosis is a common finding in the aging cervical spine [16]. ACOs can be a result of such degenerative disorders of the cervical spine. Indeed, in this study, all participants had arthritis. Symptomatic degenerative changes of the cervical spine affect approximately 75% of the population aged more than 60 years [16]. Therefore, older male patients with unexplained dysphagia may need to evaluate cervical spine for possible ACOs.
The main findings of this study were that swallowing characteristics of dysphagic patients with ACOs showed pharyngeal phase dysphagia including penetration, decreased laryngeal elevation, and reduced epiglottis inversion. The surgical group had a significant higher pharyngeal phase score of VDS than the other groups. Moreover, in the surgical group, the thickest and most affected level of ACO were at higher level of the cervical spine and their ACOs were significantly thicker than the other two groups.
Although some studies have suggested various mechanisms to account for ACO-induced dysphagia, the exact mechanisms remain unclear. Dysphagia due to ACO is most commonly associated with anterior osteophyte formation at C3-5 levels. This might be due to the fact that the normal epiglottic tilt lies over the laryngeal inlet at these levels [13]. In this study, all patients in group A had ACOs at C3-5 levels and showed reduced epiglottis inversion, decreased laryngeal elevation, and penetration on VFSS findings. According to Di Vito [17], bolus deflects off directly into the open larynx because of the shelf formed by an anterior osteophyte at C3-5 levels. This has been reported to cause direct aspiration [17]. Seidler et al. [15] have reported that osteophytes at C3-4 and C4-5 levels are associated with aspiration during swallowing due to restriction of the epiglottic closure. This type of aspiration was more common in patients of group A who had ACOs at higher cervical spine levels. In contrast, residue retention with possible post-swallow aspiration is often found in patients with osteophytes in lower cervical spine levels (C5-6, C6-7) [15]. Osteophytes at the C6-7 level can cause esophageal impingement or obstruction [17]. Group C had more osteophytes at C6-7 level. However, esophageal impingement or obstruction was not detected on VFSS. This suggests that osteophytes might not be thick enough to cause such conditions.
According to Strasser et al. [18], aspiration is rare in patients with osteophytes <10 mm. They found that clinically relevant obstruction of the pharynx occurred from about 12 to 15 mm osteophyte thickness. Seidler et al. [15] have reported that osteophytes >10 mm in the anteriorposterior length could lead to symptoms related to dysphagia. In our study, osteophyte thickness in group A was 13.13±2.26 mm, which was significantly thicker than that in other groups. The mean osteophyte thickness was 9.07±3.84 mm (range, 3–18 mm). These findings were consistent with results of other studies. The thickness of the osteophyte can affect the epiglottic tilt or direct aspiration into the larynx. It can also cause physical obstruction of the esophageal lumen. In addition, increased thickness may increase the incidence and severity of symptoms such as choking and aspiration. In the present study, the surgical group showed significantly higher scores in pharyngeal phase of VDS than the other groups. This suggests that laryngeal dysfunction along with aspiration may influence the decision to undergo surgical treatment.
There is no consensus about proper ACO treatments at this time. Most case reports and studies have reported improvements in dysphagia symptoms within 6 weeks after surgical treatment. von der Hoeh et al. [2] have reported improvements in VFSS findings and dysphagia symptoms in all their six patients after surgery. Flynn [19] have reported improvement of dysphagia symptoms in 28 of 30 patients after surgical resection of ACOs. In our study, the surgical group showed significant improvements in their dysphagia severity compared to the other treatment groups. The swallowing rehabilitation group did not show significant improvement in dysphagia severity. This might be due to the small sample size, short follow-up duration after swallowing rehabilitation, and difficult structural changes in osteophytes. However, swallowing rehabilitation has been suggested as a treatment option because neuromuscular strengthening and diet modification can help improve patients’ symptoms [20-22].
Based on EMR review, patients with thick ACO and definite aspiration were recommended to undergo surgery. In the surgical group, 3 out of 4 patients were referred to a neurosurgeon after VFSS in the rehabilitation department while the other patient underwent orthopedic surgery recommended by the otolaryngologist. In the swallowing rehabilitation group, 2 out of 9 patients refused surgery but underwent rehabilitation and 2 patients were unable to undergo an operation due to the presence of comorbidities. The remaining 5 patients were determined to conduct swallowing rehabilitation by an internist. Moreover, we compared VDS total score (40.50±6.47, 39.30±10.30) and VDS pharyngeal phase score (32.75±7.96, 33.90±8.32) of patients who were recommended for surgical treatment and those who were determined to initially undergo rehabilitation. There was no statistically significant difference (p=1.0 and p=0.905, respectively). In the conservative treatment group, 1 of 10 patients refused the recommended surgical treatment and 7 patients refused the swallowing rehabilitation. Two patients were isolated. Hence, rehabilitation was not performed. For patients with dysphagia caused by ACO, surgical indication or treatment method has not been established yet. Therefore, selection of treatment option by patient might have influenced the final decision of the treatment method.
Characteristics associated with treatment options in dysphagic patients with ACOs were analyzed. ACOs at C3 level had positive correlations with treatment options. Those in the more active treatment groups such as patients who underwent surgery and swallow rehabilitation had frequent alterations on the upper cervical spine, especially at the C3 level. A systematic review of 204 cases by Verlaan et al. [13] has elucidated that the most affected vertebrae are C3, C4, and C5 known to be associated with epiglottic tilt. Based on the study by Bartalena et al. [23], VFSS shows epiglottis impingement at C3–C4 level which alters the pharyngeal phase of swallowing and leads to laryngeal penetration. von der Hoeh et al. [2] have also reported that most surgeries are performed at C3–C4 level. Osteophytes at the C3–C5 level may cause inflammation of the anterior spinal soft tissue at the cricopharyngeal opening, thus inhibiting the opening of the UES [17]. It has been reported that the upper esophageal sphincter opening width is significantly increased, along with an improvement of hyoid movement after surgical treatment of ACOs [3]. Consistent with other studies, all patients in the surgical group of the present study had ACOs at C3–C5 level and showed laryngeal penetration, decreased laryngeal elevation, reduced epiglottis inversion, and incomplete UES opening. Moreover, ACO was significantly thicker in the surgical group. Therefore, upper cervical spine alterations, severity of the pharyngeal dysphagia, and ACO thickness might need to be considered when deciding for appropriate treatment options.
Although beneficial effects of surgical removal have been reported, surgical management of ACOs in dysphagia patients is still being debated. Post-surgical soft tissue edema and laryngeal nerve damage can occur. Therefore, there is a chance that surgery can actually degrade swallowing [24]. If there are long-term progressive bone formation and irreversible surrounding tissue changes, it is impossible to completely resolve dysphagia through surgery [25]. Therefore, it is important to establish a proper surgical indication. In an attempt to assist with decisionmaking, correlations between treatment options and various factors were analyzed. If patients’ pharyngeal dysphagia and incomplete UES opening are severe, they are more likely to undergo active treatment such as surgery and swallow rehabilitation rather than with conservative treatment.
This study has several limitations. First, it was conducted retrospectively using EMR of subjects. For this reason, selection bias could not be ruled out. Second, the number of subjects was small which limited the study’s validity. Third, VFSS follow-up was not performed for all patients after treatment. Therefore, it could not fully evaluate changes of VFSS findings.
In conclusion, the main swallowing characteristics in patients with ACOs were dysphagia features of pharyngeal phase including inappropriate airway protection, decreased laryngeal elevation, and reduced epiglottis inversion. When deciding on a treatment option, considering the severity of dysphagia, specifically at the pharyngeal phase, and the overall osteophyte thickness might be helpful.


No potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported.

Fig. 1.
Flow diagram showing subject selection procedures.
Table 1.
Demographics and clinical characteristics of dysphagic patients with ACO
Total (n=23) Group A (n=4) Group B (n=9) Group C (n=10) p-value
Sex 1.000
 Male 22 4 9 9
 Female 1 0 0 1
Etiology 0.298
 DISH 11 3 5 3
 Osteoarthritis 12 1 4 7
Age (yr) 78.69±8.01 75.25±7.56 82.56±7.19 76.60±7.46 0.191
Dysphagia duration (day) 96.91±205.19 116.75±114.38 22.22±16.66 155.30±282.48 0.948
 <1 month 16 2 6 8
 1–3 months 4 1 3 0
 >3 months 3 1 0 2
Clinical dysphagia symptoms
 Tracheostomy 1 (4.4) 1 (25) 0 0 0.174
 Aspiration 16 (69.6) 3 (75) 9 (100) 5 (50) 0.035*
 Lip sealinga) 3 (13) 0 2 (22.2) 1 (10) 0.771
 Chewing and masticationa) 11 (47.8) 0 5 (55.6) 6 (60) 0.156
 Tongue protrusiona) 9 (39.1) 0 3 (33.3) 5 (50) 0.273
 Laryngeal elevationa) 20 (87) 3 (75) 9 (100) 8 (80) 0.365
 Reflex coughing 14 (60.9) 3 (75) 6 (66.6) 5 (50) 0.630
Other symptoms
 Neck pain 0 0 0 0 1.000
 Dysphonia 1 (4.4) 1 (25) 0 0 0.174
 Choking 20 (87) 4 (100) 8 (88.9) 8 (80) 1.000
 Myelopathy 0 0 0 0 1.000
 Respiratory insufficiency 1 (4.4) 1 (25) 0 0 0.174
 Aspiration pneumonia 14 (60.9) 1 (25) 6 (66.7) 7 (70) 0.386
 Radiculopathy 1 (4.4) 1 (25) 0 0 0.174
 Reflux 0 0 0 0 1.000
 Hypertension 7 (30.4) 1 (25) 2 (22.2) 4 (40) 0.836
 Type 2 DM 5 (21.7) 0 2 (22.2) 3 (30) 0.807
 CAD 6 (26.1) 1 (25) 2 (22.2) 3 (30) 1.000
 Obesity 0 0 0 0 1.000
 COPD 4 (17.4) 0 1 (11.1) 3 (30) 0.471
 Arrhythmia 5 (21.7) 1 (25) 2 (22.2) 2 (20) 1.000
 Arthritis 23 (100) 4 (100) 9 (100) 10 (100) 1.000

Values are presented as mean±standard deviation or number (%).

ACO, anterior cervical osteophyte; DISH, diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis; DM, diabetes mellitus; CAD, coronary artery disease; COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

a) The parameter of clinical dysphagia symptoms indicates inadequate case.

* p<0.05.

Table 2.
Radiologic findings of ACO
Total (n=23) Group A (n=4) Group B (n=9) Group C (n=10) p-value
The most affected level C5 (n=18) C3-4-5 (n=4) C5 (n=8) C5-6 (n=7)
 C2 1 1 0 0 0.174
 C3 12 4 5 3 0.076
 C4 16 4 7 5 0.242
 C5 20 4 8 8 1.000
 C6 18 3 7 8 1.000
 C7 5 1 1 3 0.483
 T1 0 0 0 0 1.000
The thickest level C5 (n=8) C4 (n=3) C5 (n=4) C5 (n=3)
 C2 0 0 0 0 1.000
 C3 3 0 0 3 0.182
 C4 5 3 2 0 0.009**
 C5 8 1 4 3 0.856
 C6 6 0 3 3 0.679
 C7 1 0 0 1 1.000
 T1 0 0 0 0 1.000
Number of involved vertebra 3.00±1.44 4.00±1.41 3.11±1.37 2.50±1.28 0.217
Mean osteophyte thickness (mm) 9.07±3.84 13.13±2.26 7.83±2.92 8.55±3.93 0.010*
Osteophyte type
 Segmental 9 (39.1) 0 4 (44.4) 5 (50) 0.295
 Continuous 7 (30.4) 1 (25) 3 (33.3) 3 (30) 1.000
 Mixed 7 (30.4) 3 (75) 2 (22.2) 2 (20) 0.137

Values are presented as mean±standard deviation or number (%).

ACO, anterior cervical osteophyte; C, cervical spine; T, thoracic spine.

* p<0.05,

** p<0.01.

Table 3.
Dysphagia severity and swallowing characteristics in ACO patients
Total (n=23) Group A (n=4) Group B (n=9) Group C (n=10) p-value
CDS 38.96±17.45 45.00±26.77 43.44±14.81 32.5±15.1 0.308
ASHA NOMS swallowing scale 2.17±1.58 2±1.22 1.44±1.25 2.90±1.64 0.123
 Total 40.04±10.06 44.75±6.58 39.83±7.87 38.35±12.17 0.595
 Oral phase 8.37±7.74 4.88±6.82 6.44±6.63 11.5±7.84 0.246
 Pharyngeal phase 31.67±9.17 39.88±4.16 33.39±7.23 26.85±9.32 0.041*
VFSS findings
 In adequate bolus formation 10 (43.5) 1 (25) 2 (22.2) 7 (70) 0.079
 Premature bolus loss 14 (60.9) 2 (50) 4 (44.4) 8 (80) 0.336
 Decreased laryngeal elevation 21 (91.3) 4 (100) 9 (100) 8 (80) 0.644
 Reduced epiglottis inversion 20 (87.0) 4 (100) 9 (100) 7 (70) 0.182
 Aspiration 12 (52.2) 3 (75) 6 (66.7) 3 (30) 0.209
 Penetration 23 (100) 4 (100) 9 (100) 10 (100) 1.000
 Residue in the valleculae 19 (82.6) 4 (100) 7 (77.8) 8 (80) 1.000
 Residue in the pyriform sinuses 19 (82.6) 4 (100) 8 (88.9) 7 (70) 0.471
 Incomplete UES opening 9 (39.1) 4 (100) 3 (33.3) 2 (20) 0.016*
Oral transit time (s) 1.84±1.49 1.38±0.50 1.97±1.87 1.89±1.33 0.815
Pharyngeal delay time (s) 0.29±0.35 0.39±0.35 0.42±0.44 0.14±0.14 0.345
Pharyngeal transit time (s) 1.33±0.50 1.77±0.36 1.25±0.55 1.24±0.41 0.177

Values are presented as mean±standard deviation or number (%).

ACO, anterior cervical osteophyte; CDS, clinical dysphagia scale; ASHA NOMS, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association National Outcome Measurement System; VDS, videofluoroscopic dysphagia scale; VFSS, videofluoroscopic swallowing study; UES, upper esophageal sphincter.

* p<0.05.

Table 4.
Comparison of dysphagia severity at 3 months after the initial VFSS
Variable Group A (n=4) Group B (n=9) Group C (n=10) Between group p-value
ASHA NOMS swallowing scale
 Baseline 2.00±1.22 1.44±1.25 2.90±1.64 0.123
 3 months later 5.25±1.26 1.67±1.41 3.70±2.16 0.009**
 Intra-group p-value 0.059 0.655 0.302
VFSS follow-up patients 2 5 3
 Baseline 44.75±6.58 39.83±7.87 38.35±12.17 0.595
 Follow-up 23.70±11.67 39.1±10.22 38.33±6.21 0.035*
 Intra-group p-value 0.5 0.625 1.0
Change of VDS 27.0±6.36 1.9±8.61 1.5±6.87 0.014*

Values are presented as mean±standard deviation.

ACO, anterior cervical osteophyte; ASHA NOMS, American speech-Language-Hearing Association National Outcome Measurement System; VFSS, videofluoroscopic swallowing study; VDS, videofluoroscopic dysphagia scale.

* p<0.05,

** p<0.01.

Table 5.
Correlations between treatment options and various characteristics
Dependent variable Independent variable Rho (r) p-value
Treatment options Sex 0.226 0.300
Age 0.079 0.720
Aspiration symptom 0.371 0.081
Thickness 0.348 0.104
Osteophyte level
 C3 0.476 0.022*
 C4 0.408 0.053
 C5 0.211 0.335
 C6 -0.043 0.846
 C7 -0.218 0.318
Number of involved vertebra 0.369 0.083
CDS 0.292 0.103
 Total 0.257 0.236
 Oral phase -0.340 0.112
 Pharyngeal phase 0.505 0.014*
ASHA NOMS swallowing scale -0.325 0.131
VFSS findings
 In adequate bolus formation -0.429 0.041*
 Premature bolus loss -0.305 0.157
 Decreased laryngeal elevation 0.327 0.128
 Reduced epiglottis inversion 0.411 0.052
 Aspiration 0.383 0.071
 Residue in the valleculae 0.131 0.551
 Residue in the pyriform sinuses 0.309 0.152
 Incomplete UES opening 0.494 0.017*
Oral transit time 0.003 0.990
Pharyngeal delay time 0.312 0.147
Pharyngeal transit time 0.353 0.098

Rho (r), Spearman rank correlation coefficient; CDS, clinical dysphagia scale; VDS, videofluoroscopic dysphagia scale; ASHA NOMS, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association National Outcome Measurement System; VFSS, videofluoroscopic swallowing study; UES, upper esophageal sphincter.

* p<0.05.


1. Lecerf P, Malard O. How to diagnose and treat symptomatic anterior cervical osteophytes? Eur Ann Otorhinolaryngol Head Neck Dis 2010;127:111-6.
crossref pmid
2. von der Hoeh NH, Voelker A, Jarvers JS, Gulow J, Heyde CE. Results after the surgical treatment of anterior cervical hyperostosis causing dysphagia. Eur Spine J 2015;24 Suppl 4:S489-93.
crossref pmid
3. Jeong H, Seo HG, Han TR, Chung CK, Oh BM. Kinematic changes in swallowing after surgical removal of anterior cervical osteophyte causing dysphagia: a case series. Ann Rehabil Med 2014;38:865-70.
crossref pmid pmc
4. Egerter AC, Kim ES, Lee DJ, Liu JJ, Cadena G, Panchal RR, et al. Dysphagia secondary to anterior osteophytes of the cervical spine. Global Spine J 2015;5:e78-83.
crossref pmid pmc
5. Granville LJ, Musson N, Altman R, Silverman M. Anterior cervical osteophytes as a cause of pharyngeal stage dysphagia. J Am Geriatr Soc 1998;46:1003-7.
crossref pmid
6. Utsinger PD, Resnick D, Shapiro R. Diffuse skeletal abnormalities in Forestier disease. Arch Intern Med 1976;136:763-8.
crossref pmid
7. Zhang C, Ruan D, He Q, Wen T, Yang P. Progressive dysphagia and neck pain due to diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis of the cervical spine: a case report and literature review. Clin Interv Aging 2014;9:553-7.
crossref pmid pmc
8. Terk AR, Leder SB, Burrell MI. Hyoid bone and laryngeal movement dependent upon presence of a tracheotomy tube. Dysphagia 2007;22:89-93.
crossref pmid
9. Song J, Mizuno J, Nakagawa H. Clinical and radiological analysis of ossification of the anterior longitudinal ligament causing dysphagia and hoarseness. Neurosurgery 2006;58:913-9.
crossref pmid pdf
10. Kim J, Oh BM, Kim JY, Lee GJ, Lee SA, Han TR. Validation of the videofluoroscopic dysphagia scale in various etiologies. Dysphagia 2014;29:438-43.
crossref pmid
11. Han TR, Paik NJ, Park JW, Kwon BS. The prediction of persistent dysphagia beyond six months after stroke. Dysphagia 2008;23:59-64.
crossref pmid
12. Lee WK, Yeom J, Lee WH, Seo HG, Oh BM, Han TR. Characteristics of dysphagia in severe traumatic brain injury patients: a comparison with stroke patients. Ann Rehabil Med 2016;40:432-9.
crossref pmid pmc
13. Verlaan JJ, Boswijk PF, de Ru JA, Dhert WJ, Oner FC. Diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis of the cervical spine: an underestimated cause of dysphagia and airway obstruction. Spine J 2011;11:1058-67.
crossref pmid
14. Kim SK, Choi BR, Kim CG, Chung SH, Choe JY, Joo KB, et al. The prevalence of diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis in Korea. J Rheumatol 2004;31:2032-5.
15. Seidler TO, Perez Alvarez JC, Wonneberger K, Hacki T. Dysphagia caused by ventral osteophytes of the cervical spine: clinical and radiographic findings. Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol 2009;266:285-91.
crossref pmid
16. Oppenlander ME, Orringer DA, La Marca F, McGillicuddy JE, Sullivan SE, Chandler WF, et al. Dysphagia due to anterior cervical hyperosteophytosis. Surg Neurol 2009;72:266-70.
crossref pmid
17. Di Vito J Jr. Cervical osteophytic dysphagia: single and combined mechanisms. Dysphagia 1998;13:58-61.
crossref pmid
18. Strasser G, Schima W, Schober E, Pokieser P, Kaider A, Denk DM. Cervical osteophytes impinging on the pharynx: importance of size and concurrent disorders for development of aspiration. Am J Roentgenol 2000;174:449-53.
19. Flynn JM. Anterior cervical osteophytes causing dysphagia. Bol Asoc Med P R 1991;83:47-53.
20. Erdur O, Tasli H, Polat B, Sofiyev F, Tosun F, Colpan B, et al. Surgical management of dysphagia due to anterior cervical osteophytes. J Craniofac Surg 2017;28:e80. -4.
crossref pmid
21. Lui Jonathan YC, Sayal P, Prezerakos G, Russo V, Choi D, Casey ATH. The surgical management of dysphagia secondary to diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis. Clin Neurol Neurosurg 2018;167:36-42.
crossref pmid
22. Mata S, Fortin PR, Fitzcharles MA, Starr MR, Joseph L, Watts CS, et al. A controlled study of diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis: clinical features and functional status. Medicine (Baltimore) 1997;76:104-17.
crossref pmid
23. Bartalena T, Buia F, Borgonovi A, Rinaldi MF, Modolon C, Bassi F. DISH of the cervical spine causing epiglottis impingement. Indian J Radiol Imaging 2009;19:132-4.
crossref pmid pmc
24. Bilbao G, Duart M, Aurrecoechea JJ, Pomposo I, Igartua A, Catalan G, et al. Surgical results and complications in a series of 71 consecutive cervical spondylotic corpectomies. Acta Neurochir (Wien) 2010;152:1155-63.
crossref pmid
25. Miyamoto K, Sugiyama S, Hosoe H, Iinuma N, Suzuki Y, Shimizu K. Postsurgical recurrence of osteophytes causing dysphagia in patients with diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis. Eur Spine J 2009;18:1652-8.
crossref pmid pmc


Browse all articles >

Terms of Use   |   Privacy Polity
Editorial Office
Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Seoul National University Hospital
101 Daehak-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, Korea
Tel: +82-10-8678-2671    Fax: +82-2-6072-5244    E-mail:;
Business Registration: 110-82-07460                

Copyright © 2024 by Korean Academy of Rehabilitation Medicine.

Developed in M2PI

Close layer