PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center offers evaluation and treatment of dysphagia (swallowing dysfunction) by licensed Speech Language Pathologists in the outpatient therapy clinic. Dysphagia may result in aspiration, choking or unwanted weight loss. A swallowing evaluation involves a variety of approaches but can be divided into instrumental and non-instrumental techniques.
Non-instrumental assessment involves a clinical evaluation in an office setting for outpatients. Evaluation includes an oral exam, trials of progressive amounts and consistencies of liquids and solids and trials of therapeutic postures or maneuvers.
An instrumental exam called a Modified Barium Swallow study (MBS) may be recommended for further assessment. MBS is an x-ray study that enables the examiner to view and record the swallowing mechanism from the side and the front as the patient eats and drinks. Therapeutic positions and techniques are attempted to determine the safest diet level and to maximize the efficiency and safety of the swallow. This test also provides information on what if any exercises may be appropriate to help restore swallow function.
All evaluation procedures involve the patient swallowing liquids and solids of varying amounts and consistencies. Any or all procedures may be recommended to assess swallowing function depending on the nature and severity of the problem. The type of procedure used is generally determined by the speech language pathologist in consultation with the physician.