Modified Barium Swallow Studies

A Modified Barium Swallow (MBS) study is a x-ray procedure used to assess the oral and pharyngeal swallowing function. The procedure is performed in the radiology department and is conducted by the Speech Pathologist and the Radiologist.

The MBS should be completed when:

  • Pharyngeal dysphagia is suspected
  • Aspiration is known or is suspected
    • food or liquid entering the lungs by passing through the airway, rather than the esophagus, can result in aspiration pneumonia

Information obtained from a MBS includes:

  • Timing of the swallow in the oral and pharyngeal phases
  • Efficiency of the swallow
  • Description of the structures involved in the swallow
  • Identification of aspiration, including when, why and how much it is occurring
  • Effectiveness of swallowing strategies and techniques which may help improve swallowing function

The responsibilities of the Speech Pathologist include:

  • Administering food and liquid items to the patient
  • Interpreting the results of the MBS
  • Discussing the results with the Radiologist
  • Notify the referring physician, patient and caregiver(s) of the MBS results and recommendations
  • Post safe swallowing strategies in appropriate locations
  • Generate a written report to document findings