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What is a videofluoroscopy study?

What is a videofluoroscopy study?

It is a special X-ray examination of what happens when someone swallows.

Why does my child need to have this test?

Your child has some difficulties with feeding and swallowing and a doctor has referred them for this X-ray. Swallowing problems can show themselves in a variety of ways and may include coughing or choking when eating, weight loss, frequent chest infections or taking a long time over meals.

If a child has swallowing difficulties this can result in food and drink going down the ‘wrong way’. Medical staff refer to this as ‘aspiration’. If this happens frequently it may lead to an increase in chest infections and damage to the lungs. The purpose of the videofluoroscopy is to take a closer look at how your child swallows and identify any problems they are having.

Are there any risks associated with videofluoroscopy?

Any potential risks will be discussed with you before the test. The test uses X-rays but the total radiation dose from a feeding study is very low.

Are there any alternatives to this test?

No. It will only have been requested if it is felt that this is the best way to find out more information about your child’s condition.

Is there anything I should do to prepare for my child’s appointment?

Yes. You will need to bring the different types of food and drink that your child eats with you to the appointment. For example:

  • yoghurt
  • lumpy food
  • biscuit
  • drink
  • thickened drink
  • their own spoons, bowl, bottle and cup

It is important that your child is ready to eat for this study so we suggest that they have nothing to eat for 3 to 4 hours before the study. If you feel that your child will eat at the study or if your child needs to be fed regularly for medical reasons please feel free to feed them.

What happens on the day of the test?

You will be asked to come to the X-ray department. You will wait in the waiting room and then come through to the X-ray room. There will be other adults in the X-ray room. The radiographer will operate the X-ray machine and the speech and language therapists will prepare your child’s food and drink. Sometimes this can take us a few minutes. The Speech and Language Therapists will watch the screen to see what is happening when your child is swallowing. There is always a doctor available in the X-ray department.

Your child will sit in a supportive chair next to the X-ray machine. If they use a wheelchair they can stay in their own chair during the test.

The test does not hurt and the X-ray machine does not touch your child. We understand that some children may be nervous because this is an unfamiliar place and you might find it helpful to show your child the pictures attached to this resource.

In order to see what is happening when your child swallows we add a white substance called barium sulphate to your child’s food and drink. This enables the food to show up on the X-ray. The barium is almost tasteless and your child will be asked to eat and swallow small amounts of the food. We understand that some children will not eat foods that look different and so we always try to keep the food looking as ‘normal’ as possible.

We will ask you if your child has any allergies. We will ask you to give your child the food or to stay close to them whilst they eat. You will be asked to wear a lead apron. If you are pregnant you will be asked to stand behind a special protective screen and so it will be helpful if another person your child feels comfortable with can stay close to them whilst they feed.

The videofluorosocpy itself only takes a few minutes to complete however it often takes time to set up the equipment and so the whole procedure can last 10 to 30 minutes.

What happens after the test?

The speech and language therapist will explain what the X-ray has shown.

The speech and language therapist will send a report back to the doctor who requested the videofluoroscopy and to your local speech and language therapist so they can make any recommendations for future care.

If the test shows that your child’s swallow could be putting them at immediate risk we will try to contact your child’s medical team on the same day so they can discuss this with you and make an appropriate plan.

Is there anything I need to watch out for at home?

Your child’s poo may be white in appearance as the barium is passed. This is nothing to worry about.

When can my child get back to normal?

Your child can return to school or resume their normal activities immediately after the test.

How do I make a comment about my child’s treatment?

We aim to provide the best possible service and staff will be happy to answer any questions you may have. If you have any suggestions or comments about your visit, please either speak to a member of staff, fill in a comment card or contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) on 0114 271 7594 www.sheffieldchildrens.nhs.uk/pals . PALS staff are able to listen to your comments, suggestions or queries and help sort out problems on your behalf.

More information

If your question is about the date or time of your child’s study please call the X-ray department directly on 0114 271 7238.

If your question is about what will happen during the study please call Speech and Language Therapy on 0114 271 7617.

VF easy read sheets.pdf (90.78 KB)

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

Resource number: RAD5

Resource Type: pdf

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