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Home > Health Library > Swallowing Study
A swallowing study is a test that shows what your throat and esophagus do while you swallow. The test uses X-rays in real time (fluoroscopy) and records what happens when you swallow. While you swallow, the doctor and speech pathologist watch a video screen.
For a swallowing study, you will swallow liquid mixed with a substance called barium. Or you might swallow solid foods coated with barium.
The barium shows the movements of your throat and esophagus on the X-ray while you swallow.
The test helps your doctor see why you're having trouble swallowing. After treatment, it can also show your doctor if the treatment worked.
Your doctor may tell you not to eat anything after midnight the night before the test.
The test will take about 20 to 30 minutes.
You won't feel any pain from the X-ray. The barium liquid is thick and chalky, and some people find it hard to swallow. A sweet flavor, like chocolate or strawberry, is used to make it easier to drink.
The barium in the food isn't harmful.
Some people gag when they drink the barium fluid. In rare cases, a person may choke and inhale (aspirate) some of the liquid into the lungs.
There is a small chance that the barium will block the intestine or leak into the belly through a perforated ulcer.
If your doctor thinks you may be at risk for complications, he or she may use a special type of contrast material (Gastrografin) instead of barium.
There is always a small chance of damage to cells or tissue from being exposed to any radiation, even the low level of radiation used for this test.
The throat and esophagus look normal while you swallow. They do not have swelling, an injury, narrowing, or foreign objects.
The throat and esophagus don't look normal while you swallow. The test shows swelling, an injury, narrowing, or foreign objects that make it hard to swallow.
Current as of:
June 17, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Kathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineMartin J. Gabica MD - Family MedicinePeter J. Kahrilas MD - Gastroenterology
Current as of: June 17, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & Peter J. Kahrilas MD - Gastroenterology
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