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Cranial Nerves
Cranial Nerves

The Pharyngeal Reflex

February 15th, 2021


Also known as the 'gag' reflex.
  • How to Elicit

  • Ask the Patient to open their mouth and gently touch the soft palate with a tongue depressor. Warn the patient beforehand.

Absent Pharyngeal Reflex

  • Causes of Absent Pharyngeal Reflex

  • Bulbar palsy - motor neuron disease, Guillain-Barré, polio, neurosyphilis, brainstem stroke
  • Glossopharyngeal (IX) / vagus (X) nerve lesion - trauma, compression, inflammation
  • Cerebral - infarct (stroke), trauma, tumour, cerebral palsy
  • Medications - antipsychotics, muscle relaxants

Exaggerated Pharyngeal Reflex

  • Causes of Exaggerated Pharyngeal Reflex

  • May be normal
  • Pseudobulbar palsy - internal capsular stroke, multiple sclerosis, motor neuron disease
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