Dysphagia after stroke impacts quality of life and is a risk factor for respiratory infections. Patients frequently require prophylactic measures including nasogastric tube or percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy. Until recently, therapy for dysphagia was limited to training with a speech and language specialist. Intraluminal pharyngeal electrical stimulation (PES) is a new technique that stimulates the pharyngeal sensory afferents to the higher swallowing center in cortex. The clinical trials published to date involved stimulation for 10 minutes over three days. We present a case of brainstem infarction with severe dysphagia in a 53-year-old woman with preserved cognitive functions. For airway protection, she had a surgical tracheotomy. The initial swallowing training achieved slight improvements, but stagnated after three months so PES was tried. Under good PES tube tolerance, a prolonged and repeated stimulation protocol was administered, with the main purpose of relieving her of the tracheal tube. Although the swallowing improved, she stayed tube-dependent with minimal attempts with pureed food during therapy, and could not be decannulated. Further studies are required to assess the value of this promising approach for the treatment of dysphagia.
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