Published: Jan. 20, 2010
Updated: Aug. 4, 2011
Videofluoroscopic swallow studies (VFSS) are used to evaluate a patient's swallowing function. They are sometimes referred to as modified barium swallow studies.
A videofluoroscopic swallow study (VFSS) is an x-ray study of swallowing function. A speech pathologist performs the study, along with a radiologist (a doctor who specializes in x-rays).
The radiologist takes moving x-ray images of the mouth and throat while food and liquid, mixed with barium is swallowed.
The VFSS will test your ability to swallow food and drink safely and comfortably.
If you have trouble swallowing, called dysphagia, you may be at risk for aspiration. Aspiration occurs when food or drink enters the windpipe, possibly going into the lungs. Aspiration may put you at risk for developing an infection of the lungs, called aspiration pneumonia. Swallowing problems may also put you at risk for not getting enough liquids or food (dehydration or malnutrition).
Based on information from the study, the speech pathologist will help your doctor determine the best way for you to get the nutrition you need. This may include changing your diet, using strategies to make swallowing safer and easier, or other options.
Let your doctor know if you are or may be pregnant or if you have had previous side effects from barium.
The study is done in the radiology department at the hospital or outpatient clinic.
No. It is not painful, but the barium may taste chalky.
The study usually takes about 10 to 15 minutes. After the study, the speech pathologist will review the results and discuss them with you, when needed.
A full report of the study will be given to your doctor. The speech pathologist will work with you and your doctor to determine the best nutrition plan for you.
You do not have to do anything after the study. If your speech pathologist has suggestions for you, those instructions will be given to you immediately after the study.
This article is intended as a resource for patients receiving their voice care at Duke Voice Care Center. It is not intended to substitute for medical advice from your health care team. If your doctor’s instructions differ from the information in this article, please talk with your doctor before making any changes.