Offering diagnosis and treatment of communication, hearing, and swallowing disorders
Published: Mar. 17, 2010
Updated: Nov. 3, 2011
A videofluoroscopic swallow evaluation (VFSE) is an x-ray evaluation of swallowing function. A speech-language pathologist performs the study jointly with a radiologist.
Moving x-ray images of the mouth, throat, and esophagus are taken while food and liquid of different textures and consistencies, mixed with barium, are swallowed.
You will be seated upright with x-ray equipment beside you. The speech-language pathologist will give you food and liquids mixed with barium to swallow.
Barium is visible on the x-rays, allowing the speech-language pathologist and radiologist to see how the food and liquid travels through your mouth, passes down your throat and food tube, and enters your stomach.
If you have swallowing problems, you may be asked to try different techniques or positions while you swallow to compensate for these difficulties.
The VFSE will test your ability to swallow food and drink safely and comfortably. Based on information from the VSFE, the speech-language pathologist will help your doctor determine the best way for you to get the nutrition you need. This may include a modified diet, strategies to make swallowing safer and easier, or other options.
No, but the barium may taste chalky.
On average a VSFE takes 10 to 15 minutes, but the x-ray machine will usually only be turned on for three to five minutes of this time. It will take additional time for your speech-language pathologist to review the results and discuss those with you.
Risks include exposure to a small amount of radiation. If you are pregnant, special precautions will be taken to protect your unborn child, or an alternative procedure may be recommended.
If you have swallowing problems, there is a risk that you may aspirate a small amount of barium. The speech pathologist will make every effort to minimize any aspiration that occurs.
Let your speech-language pathologist know if you are or may be pregnant. Inform us of any food allergies, especially allergy to barium. Also, let your speech-language pathologist know if you have previously experienced side effects from ingesting barium.
The study is performed in the radiology department at a hospital or outpatient clinic. When you make your appointment you will be told where to check in on the day of your appointment.
Adult patients can eat and drink normally throughout the day. Pediatric patients should not eat or drink at least two hours before the test.
The results of your test will be discussed with you immediately after the test. Additionally, a full report of the test will be given to your doctor. The speech pathologist will work with you and your doctor to determine the best nutrition plan for you based on the results.