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Advanced Swallowing Evaluation & Therapies at Wake Forest Baptist

Our experienced team of speech-language pathologists and laryngologists at Wake Forest Baptist offer several outpatient therapies to treat dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing. As a first step in swallowing treatment, we evaluate swallowing function using advanced techniques that illustrate, in real time, how food and liquids are swallowed, how the muscles work, and if aspiration occurs during the swallowing process. We then use this information to develop individualized treatment plans.

Swallowing evaluation tests may include:

  • Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES)
    The FEES is a swallowing evaluation where a small endoscope is gently passed through the nose to visualize the throat. The patient is given various food and liquids so that swallowing can be viewed in real time. Food and liquid is typically dyed green to allow for increased visualization.
  • Modified Barium Swallowing Study (MBS)
    A MBS, or Pharyngeal Function Study, is an x-ray of the swallowing process, performed in conjunction with a radiologist. This test is typically done for patients who have difficulty swallowing liquids, solids, or medications. The patient is given a variety of food and liquid mixed with Barium, a contrast material that shows up on the x-ray when you swallow. 

Swallowing Therapies & Treatments

We use the latest technology to help patients strengthen weakened muscles in the mouth and throat, improve timing and coordination of the swallow, enhance airway protection and increase attention to respiratory pattern during the swallow. Swallowing therapies are customized for each patient and may include:

  • Surface Electromyographic(sEMG)
    During sEMG biofeedback, small electrodes are placed under the patient’s chin to measure contraction of the swallowing muscles, and the data is displayed on a computer monitor in real time. This provides visual biofeedback that helps patients improve swallowing effort.
  • Lingual Manometry
    Lingual manometry can be used to evaluate and improve tongue strength. Small air-filled bulbs are placed on the tongue. The patient then presses the bulbs against the roof of the mouth, while a computer screen monitors the activity. This provides visual biofeedback during tongue strengthening exercises.
  • Respiratory Biofeedback
    Respiratory biofeedback can be utilized to increase attention to respiration during the swallow. The patient wears a nasal cannula to measure inspiration and exhalation during swallowing, which is captured in conjunction with sEMG. This allows for visual biofeedback of the respiratory pattern to improve the coordination of respiration and swallowing.
  • Endoscopic Biofeedback
    An endoscope is placed transnally to allow visualization of the throat. The patient is able to practice swallowing exercises, maneuvers and strategies. This allows for increased awareness of targeted outcomes.
  • VitalStim®
    VitalStim® involves placing small electrodes under the chin and using electrical current to stimulate the muscles in the neck area and improve swallowing. This is performed together with traditional swallowing exercises and lingual manometry.

Outpatient dysphagia therapy requires time, energy and dedication from the patient. Patients may need to work with the speech-language pathologist two or three times per week, for a number of weeks, to improve swallowing function and will be given swallowing exercises to practice at home. We can provide more frequent swallowing therapy sessions for patients who live out of town. 

Make an Appointment for your Voice or Swallowing Evaluation

Call 716-WAKE or request an appointment online.



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Last Updated: 06-14-2016
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Disclaimer: The information on this website is for general informational purposes only and SHOULD NOT be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice, evaluation or care from your physician or other qualified health care provider.

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