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Videofluoroscopy Swallow Study (VFSS)

Prior to completing a VFSS, you should have completed a feeding/swallowing clinical evaluation with a speech language pathologist (SLP).  The evaluating clinician will ask about your child’s medical history, feeding experience, and will evaluate his or her oral-motor skills for feeding and swallowing.

What is a VFSS?

A VFSS is a test to look at how your child swallows foods and liquids. We make an X-ray “movie” of your child’s mouth and throat while her or she is drinking and eating.  A speech language pathologist (SLP) will work with you and your child. A radiologist will also be present during the study.  The SLP will make recommendations right after the test, but you may need to check with your child’s doctor before making any changes in your child’s diet.

How can I prepare my child?

Your child needs an empty stomach for the VFSS procedure.  Please do not feed your child based on the guidelines below:

  • Newborn to 6 months: No food for two  hours prior to your scheduled study time
  • 7-24 months: No food for three hours prior to your scheduled study time
  • 24 months and older: No  food for four hours prior to your scheduled study time

It is important for your child to arrive hungry and ready to eat to complete the procedure. If your child has a feeding tube, you may need to hold or turn off feedings following the guidelines above. It is best if your child wears clothing without snaps on the neck or shoulder.

What should we bring with us?

  • Valid prescription for VFSS (i.e., videofluoroscopy evaluation, swallow study, cookie swallow, modified barium swallow/MBS, etc.) including the patient’s medical diagnosis
  • Bring the bottles and nipples, sippy cups, spoons and/or any other special feeding items that your child uses at home. 
  • Variety of foods and liquids that your child readily eats at home, (such as baby food, un-thickened milk/formula, cookies, etc).
  • If needed an item (i.e., blanket, toys, music. etc) for comfort or successful feeding.
  • Change of clothing (i.e., shirt/blouse)

What happens during the study?

During the VFSS, your child will be seated next to the X-ray machine during the study. We will give your child a variety of foods and liquids, depending on his or her age and feeding experience. We will add a small amount of barium to the foods and liquids. This allows us to see the foods and liquids on the X-ray as they move through your child’s mouth and down the throat. Although barium is safe, it may cause mild constipation after the study (MedlinePlus Drug, 2016). Should you have questions about the possible side effects of barium, please contact your child’s pediatrician.

Who can be with my child during the study?

You or another non-pregnant adult will come in the room to feed your child during the study. If you cannot be with your child, please bring another adult your child is comfortable with, so that they can help feed your child.  Siblings or other children under the age of 12 are not allowed in the X-ray room and cannot be left unattended in the waiting room area. Therefore, please plan accordingly.

How long does the study take? 

You will arrive at the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital main campus as advised by our scheduling team.  Upon arrival directly locate the Patient Access office.   Present your prescription to the staff and inform them that you are here for your child’s videofluoroscopy swallow study. If you are scheduled for both a clinical feeding and swallowing evaluation and a videofluoroscopy swallow study, please inform the Patient Access attendant that you are registering for two separate evaluations.

Although the VFSS study itself is quick (between 20-30 minutes), please allow for flexibility with your schedule for this appointment.  Preparation for these studies varies by patient and we aim to provide personalized care to each patient. If you have any questions or need assistance, please let us know.   

We look forward to working with you and your child!

Videofluoroscopy Swallow Study (VFSS)
For more information about The Department of Radiology, or to make an appointment,
please call (305) 663-8413 or toll free 877-624-8413.

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