Our videofluoroscopy service
Our speech and language therapists can provide or refer patients who require a videofluoroscopy, for an objective swallowing assessment. A videofluoroscopy can provide the speech therapist with lots of information on an individual's swallow and whether they will require further therapy or advice to ensure they have a safe and effective swallow.
What is a videofluoroscopy?
A videofluoroscopy (also known as a barium swallow) is an objective assessment of an individual's swallow. It is an x-ray of multiple successive pictures of a person swallowing in detail. It allows the speech therapist to clearly view the muscles required for a swallow in action and to see whether these are being used effectively and safely. It also allows the speech therapist to see if the individual is aspirating any of their food or drinks.
A videofluoroscopy can also be used as a tool to review the progress of patient, this is useful to see if the therapy programme is effective for the patient and allows the patient to see their own progress.
Why would someone need a videofluoroscopy assessment?
Someone may need a videofluoroscopy if they are concerned about any aspect of their eating, drinking and swallowing. Firstly, one of our speech therapists will arrange a visit to do a personal assessment. This will involve them assessing the swallow in different ways, usually by listening and feeling the throat and chest. If the speech therapist is unable to find out all of the necessary information to provide advice and treatment, you will then require a videofluoroscopy.
What would a videofluoroscopy involve?
A videofluoroscopy assessment will take approximately 20 minutes. You will be invited to a clinic or hospital at a time to suit you and you will be asked to stand or sit by an x-ray machine. There will usually be a speech therapist and a radiologist present, and dependent on the need, an ENT specialist may be present. The speech therapist will give you instructions on what to do as you go along, you will be asked to eat or drink small amounts of food and drink differing in texture and thickness. The food may taste different to what it would normally taste like as it will have barium on it. Barium is perfectly safe to intake but is used as it shows up on the x-ray. This gives the speech and language therapist a clear view of what is exactly happening to the materials as you swallow.
As the assessment progresses, the speech and language therapist will review each swallow and may request that you move into different seating positions or try to use different strategies. Each of these will be reviewed to fully understand what is happening and what can be done to reduce the risk of your swallow. All of this will be done to reach the aim of creating the most safe and effective swallow for you.
Who would benefit from a videofluoroscopy?
A videofluoroscopy will benefit anyone who feels that their swallow is unsafe or ineffective. This is usually anyone with eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties, also known as dysphagia. Dysphagia can be caused by the following conditions:
- Neurological problems
- Throat cancer
- Laryngeal surgery
- Head and neck cancer
- Physical disabilities
- Learning difficulties
- Palliative care needs
- Normal ageing process
Our speech and language therapists can provide a videofluoroscopy with minimal waiting lists in order to ensure your safety and at a time to suit you.
If you feel you may benefit from speech and language therapy or would like any more information on our services please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0330 088 5643.