Dysphagia is a swallowing disorder that can result from stroke, head and neck cancer, Parkinson’s, ALS, and other conditions. Patients may experience coughing and choking during meals, feeling like liquids “go down the wrong pipe,” and the sensation of food or pills sticking in their throat. Dysphagia can cause pneumonia and weight loss, and also have a severe impact on quality of life.
The Wake Forest Baptist Health Center for Voice and Swallowing disorders is a multidisciplinary clinic with a team of dysphagia-specialized speech-language pathologists who work closely with laryngologists, head and neck surgeons, dieticians, and oncologists. Clinicians are trained in the gold standard of swallowing evaluation and diagnostics performed with high quality technology for detailed results. Accurate evaluation is the first step to designing an individualized rehabilitation plan to meet your goals. If you or a loved one is experiencing a swallowing problem, schedule an evaluation with our specialized dysphagia care team.
What to Expect
If you or a family member have symptoms of dysphagia, the best place to start is with a thorough evaluation. Your speech pathologist will either perform a flexible endoscopic evaluation of swallow (FEES) or a modified barium swallow (MBS) to diagnose any problems with your throat and swallowing muscles. Your therapist may try different head postures, food and liquid textures, or swallowing strategies during your evaluation to try to immediately improve the safety or comfort of your swallowing.
A FEES is performed with a small scope camera inserted through your nose into your throat. You will then eat and drink several foods and liquids that have been dyed green to assess how your throat muscles are working.
An MBS is a video x-ray of your swallowing. You will sit in front of an x-ray camera and eat and drink several foods with barium in them. Barium is a chalky contrast material that allows the food to show up on the x-ray.
For both of these evaluations your speech pathologist will discuss the results and plan of care with you during the appointment. Your speech pathologist may recommend swallowing therapy, diet and texture modifications, swallowing strategies, further evaluations, or surgery such as esophageal dilations.