How Can the Swallowing Problem Be Evaluated?
Patients with suspected swallowing problems should receive careful evaluation: There are many ways to evaluate a patient's swallowing ability. One of the most common methods is an x-ray study known as a "modified barium swallow." This is a simple test in which the patient sits comfortable in his or her usual position for eating and is given a variety of foods and liquids to swallow in different amounts. During the test, the patient's mouth and pharynx are examined to determine whether each structure is moving normally and whether each structure is moving normally and whether various muscles are operating normally. Not only can the structures be seen, but the food can also be observed as it moves through the mouth and pharynx to find out if it stays in the mouth and pharynx to find out if it stays in the mouth or throat after attempts to swallow. During this x-ray study, the swallowing therapist can also introduce treatment techniques to improve the patient's swallow. In this way, the swallowing therapist can determine the best types of treatment for the patient.
Other ways to examine swallowing use a small fiberoptic tube to look down the patient's throat as he or she swallows or use other imaging techniques to view the mouth, the larynx or the pharynx during swallowing. All of these procedures are comfortable and should not cause the patient any difficulty.