Modified Barium Swallow

Patient looking at results of modified barium swallow studyA modified barium swallow (MBS) is a procedure designed to determine whether food or liquid is entering a person’s lungs, also known as aspiration.

It permits the medical team to observe the coordination of anatomical structures in the mouth and throat, as they are actively functioning when chewing, drinking and swallowing. It also identifies the reason for aspiration.

In modified barium swallow, you ingest foods and liquids containing barium sulfate, a contrast dye that sharply outlines your mouth, throat and esophagus on x-ray. Using real-time x-rays, or fluoroscopy, a physician and a speech pathologist observe the movement of the barium through these structures on a  monitor. Modified barium swallow is specifically aimed at evaluating the swallowing process in individuals who have difficulty speaking or swallowing food without inhaling, or aspirating, it into the windpipe.

Once the cause of difficult or impaired swallowing is identified, the most appropriate treatment or management techniques for the swallowing problems can be determined.