Videofluoroscopic Swallowing Studies

Speech language pathologists (SLP) perform swallowing tests using different foods and liquids. The SLP utilizes these tests to assess how well the muscles of the mouth and throat are functioning. Sometimes the SLP needs even more information requiring the assistance of the radiology, or x-ray, department.

Why have a VFSS?

When a swallowing test is performed in the SLP's office or in a hospital room, the SLP can't see what is happening inside the mouth and throat. The VFSS allows the SLP to see:

  • if food is going into the airway instead of the stomach, called aspiration
  • which parts of the mouth and throat may not be working well
  • what kinds of food are safest for the patient to swallow
  • if certain positions or strategies help the patient swallow better

How is the VFSS done?

This study is done in the radiology, or x-ray, department. The patient will sit or stand next to an x-ray machine. The SLP will give the patient different foods and drinks mixed with barium. The barium makes the food and liquid show up on the x-ray. Barium is not harmful and will not remain in the body for long. The x-ray machine is only turned on while the patient is swallowing limiting radiation exposure.

The SLP will ask the patient to do different things during the test. The patient may try soft foods and hard foods, and thin liquids and thick liquids. The patient may take small amounts and large amounts. The patient may be asked to move your head in different positions. The patient may also be asked to swallow hard. The test may be recorded so it can be watched again later.
What happens after the test?

The SLP and doctor will discuss what they saw during the study. The SLP will use the test results to decide what treatment will help the patient swallow more effectively. The SLP will discuss what foods and liquids are safest, and how to eat them.

How can referrals be made?

Physician referral is required.

This service is available at our Central location only. For more information, please call 812.353.9484.