Modified Barium Swallow
- Description: A video is taken as contrast is swallowed. The video can then be played back at a slower speed to detect minor abnormalities in the swallowing mechanism. An Otolaryngologist or Radiologist and speech therapist perform the test at an x-ray facility. The doctor then interprets the results. The test takes 1 hour to perform.
- Discomfort – Minimal. The contrast is unpleasant to swallow to some.
- Duration – About 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on findings.
- Results – Within 1-2 days.
- Risks of Procedure – Exposure to radiation, particularly during pregnancy.
- Average Cost – $
- Other Names – Video swallow or cookie swallow.
Indication for the Test
- To examine the swallowing mechanism in persons who are having problems swallowing.
- Nothing by mouth for several hours before the test.
- You wear a hospital gown.
- You are placed on an x-ray table.
- A video monitor attached to an x-ray machine is used to take pictures and videos as you swallow various foods.
- While on the x-ray table, you swallow barium of varying consistencies (thin liquid, thick liquid, paste, and barium-coated cookie/marshmallow/pill).
- By varying the amounts and consistency of the contrast material that is swallowed, the doctor is able to identify the cause of the swallowing problem.
- With a speech pathologist present, techniques to aid in improving the swallowing problem can be identified.
After the Procedure
- Patient is free to leave and resume normal activities.
Factors affecting results
- Movement affects the quality of the images obtained.
The test can identify the cause of the swallowing problem and, in some cases, identify techniques to improve swallowing.
- Detailed images of the damaged organs are not obtained.
- There is a small amount of radiation exposure.
- Some diseases that can cause swallowing problems can be missed if they occur in the mid or lower esophagus.