Swallowing Disorders

Diagnosis and Treatment Approaches


Modified Barium Swallow Study


VitalStim (Electrical Stimulation for Swallowing Disorders)

Pediatric Feeding Disorder Program

Modified Barium Swallow Study

This diagnostic procedure is the industry standard for diagnosing swallowing disorders. During the procedure, patients rest on a special radiotranslucent chair where they consume barium-embedded foods and liquids of varying consistencies. In conjunction with a radiologist, a speech pathologist determines if it is safe for the patient to eat and/or drink and if diet modifications are necessary.

VitalStim (Electrical Stimulation for Swallowing Disorders)

VitalStim is the only FDA-approved neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NES) dysphagia swallowing approach available. This dynamic and innovative program is revolutionizing swallowing therapy as it successfully combines NES and traditional dysphagia techniques. Our speech pathology staff includes therapists who are certified in this state-of-the-art treatment, which has shown marked success. Seventy-one percent of patients with a diagnosis of dysphagia and who experience cricopharyngeal dysfunction have progressed to swallow all consistencies of food with a combination of VitalStim and dilation. Success rates are improved for those with dysphagia without cricopharyngeal involvement. Some patients may expect to see dramatic improvements in 6-20 daily sessions of treatment.

Pediatric Feeding Disorder Treatment

Speech pathologists at Deaconess Hospital treat both full-term and premature infants with feeding/swallowing disorders related to neurological problems, pulmonary conditions and unknown causes. The pediatric treatment program typically includes an interdisciplinary team of physicians, occupational therapists, speech therapists, physical therapists, dietitians, and family members or caregivers.

Our clinicians have a thorough understanding of the anatomical structures responsible for suck, swallow and breathing. They know the complex functions of these structures and their overlapping roles in other life-sustaining processes. They also have an understanding of the child as a whole and how medical, developmental and environmental factors can impact successful and pleasurable eating experiences.