Authors: Florie MGMH, Pilz W, Dijkman RH, Kremer B, Wiersma A, Winkens B, Baijens LWJ
Title: The Effect of Cranial Nerve Stimulation on Swallowing: A Systematic Review
Source: Dysphagia 2021 36(2): 216-230
Year: 2021
Research Design: Systematic Review

This systematic review summarizes published studies on the effect of cranial nerve stimulation (CNS) on swallowing and determines the level of evidence of the included studies to guide the development of future research on new treatment strategies for oropharyngeal dysphagia (OD) using CNS. Studies published between January 1990 and October 2019 were found via a systematic comprehensive electronic database search using PubMed, Embase, and the Cochrane Library. Two independent reviewers screened all articles based on the title and abstract using strict inclusion criteria. They independently screened the full text of this initial set of articles. The level of evidence of the included studies was assessed independently by the two reviewers using the A-B-C rating scale. In total, 3267 articles were found in the databases. In the majority of these studies, CNS was used for treatment-resistant depression or intractable epilepsy. Finally, twenty-eight studies were included; seven studies on treatment of depression, thirteen on epilepsy, and eight on heterogeneous indications. Of these, eight studies reported the effects of CNS on swallowing and in 20 studies the swallowing outcome was described as an adverse reaction. A meta-analysis could not be carried out due to the poor methodological quality and heterogeneity of study designs of the included studies. These preliminary data suggest that specific well-indicated CNS might be effective in reducing OD symptoms in selective patient groups. But it is much too early for conclusive statements on this topic. In conclusion, the results of these studies are encouraging for future research on CNS for OD. However, randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled clinical trials with sufficiently large sample sizes are necessary.

Access: Open Access