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Video Swallow Study

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What is a video swallow study?

A video swallow study is an x-ray movie to see how your child swallows. The test is videotaped so it can be reviewed if needed.

What does a video swallow show?

The test is done to see:

  • how the tongue is used to get food to the back of the throat.
  • how food is swallowed.
  • if food goes into the lungs instead of the stomach.
  • if different consistencies are handled better than others.
  • if different positioning helps for feeding.

What should I do to prepare my child for a video swallow study?

If your child has any food allergies, please be sure to tell the radiology scheduler.

Your child is not to have any feeding for 4-6 hours prior to the test but should get his/her medicines as usual. Not letting your child eat for 4-6 hours before the test will ensure your child is hungry at study time and will reduce the chance your child will vomit during the study.

If your child has a favorite nipple, spoon, cup or food, it is a good idea to bring these items with you for the test. You need to arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled time to register and meet with the therapist. The study usually takes 20 minutes, but you will be in the Radiology Department longer than that.

What should I expect during my child’s video swallow study?

  • The swallow study is done in the Radiology Department. Usually a speech pathologist or an occupational therapist, x-ray technologist, and x-ray doctor (radiologist) are present for the test. The therapist, technologist and doctor usually try to "warm up" to your child to get cooperation. However, do not be surprised if your child gets a little upset during this study.
  • Your child will be given barium to swallow. Barium shows up on an x-ray so your child's swallow can be watched. Barium looks like white paste and is not very tasty, so your child may take the barium better if he/she is hungry.
  • Different types of barium (thin to thick) may be tried to see which thickness your child can swallow best.
  • Sometimes the barium is mixed with formula or food that your child is used to eating. This makes it easier for your child to swallow the barium. If your child refuses to take the barium, a syringe without a needle is used to put some barium in the back of the mouth. Your child may be put in different positions to see if a certain position will improve the swallowing.

What should I expect after the study?

The therapist and radiologist usually look at several swallows and then report the results to your child's doctor. Sometimes your child's doctor can be called right after the study. Other times, the doctor may call you in a day or two to go over the results. Your doctor will contact you to discuss the results of the test and may give you suggestions about feeding your child.

After the study, your child can go back to a normal routine. Your child's bowel movements may be white from the barium for a day or so until all the barium is passed.


Disclaimer:This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

Reviewed: 06/2010

(757) 668-7000