Offering diagnosis and treatment of communication, hearing, and swallowing disorders
Published: Mar. 17, 2010
Updated: Nov. 3, 2011
Because every swallowing problem is different, the Duke Swallow Center tailors services to meet your specific needs.
Your evaluation will depend on many factors including the cause, severity, and length of time you have been experiencing the swallowing problem. A clinical swallow evaluation is often the first step to diagnosing and treating a swallowing problem.
The clinical swallow evaluation is ordered when a speech-language pathologist wishes to look closely at how your muscles in your face and throat work, how you swallow different foods and liquids, and how it relates to your medical history.
This test may result in a diagnosis, initiation of therapy, or further testing.
A clinical swallow evaluation may not be performed the exact same way each time. All patients have unique situations and the evaluation is tailored to meet those needs. However, the main portions of the evaluation are similar.
In general, the speech-language pathologist will ask questions about the problems you have. You may be asked to move or use the muscles of your face, mouth, and throat in a certain way to gain information about how they move.
Finally, you could be asked to eat and drink, and the speech-language pathologist will observe how your swallowing muscles work and note any signs of a swallowing disorder.
The time required for a clinical swallow evaluation varies. Usually, it will take from 20 minutes to an hour.
Risks include food allergy if you are asked to eat or drink during the evaluation. Please notify the speech-language pathologist of any food allergies to minimize this risk.
If you have swallowing problems, there is a risk that you may aspirate (food or liquid goes into the airway) food or liquid. The speech pathologist will make every effort to minimize any aspiration that occurs.
A clinical swallow evaluation shows a speech-language pathologist what is wrong with your swallow and how to make it better, or it may tell your speech-language pathologist if further testing is needed.
You should provide the speech-language pathologist with as much detailed information about your medical and swallowing history as possible. This should include any recent or relevant testing related to the swallowing problem and any current or previous swallowing or speech therapy.
A list of current medications is also helpful information to bring to your evaluation. You should also alert your speech-language pathologist to any food allergies or diet restrictions.
The study is done in one of our clinic locations. When you make your appointment you will be told where to check in on the day of your appointment.
Adult patients are free to eat and drink normally throughout the day. Pediatric patients should not eat or drink at least two hours before the evaluation.
The results of your test will be discussed with you immediately after the evaluation is completed. Additionally, a full report will be given to your doctor. The speech-language pathologist will work with you and your doctor to determine the best nutrition plan for you based on the results.