Difficulty swallowing

A videofluoroscopy is a type of X-ray that looks at the way your swallowing works. You will be asked to chew and swallow different varieties of food and drinks mixed with a ‘contrast’ - a radioactive substance that shows up on an X-ray. A video will be taken so your doctor and speech and language therapist can see how your swallow is working. For example:

  • Is food getting stuck in your mouth or throat?
  • Is food or drink going down the wrong way and getting into your lungs?

Before the test

You don’t need to do anything special, but if you’re using any special cups or feeding equipment, bring them with you. You may be asked to bring some foods you find easy and hard to swallow with you.

Does it hurt?

It doesn’t hurt, but there is a chance some food may go down the wrong way and make you cough.

How long does it take?

About 20 minutes

Are there any side-effects or risks?

The amount of radioactivity shouldn’t cause any problems for most people, but if you’re pregnant or might be pregnant it’s very important to tell the radiologist before the test.

After the test

You shouldn’t need to stay in hospital after the test, unless you are staying in hospital for other tests or treatment.
If the results show that food or liquid is getting into your lungs, you may need to have your food through a tube in your stomach (PEG tube). Sometimes this tube can be permanent but usually it is temporary.

For more information

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1800 200 700

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