Video Swallow Study (VSS)

A video swallow study uses X-rays to take pictures of your child's throat while he / she is eating and drinking. It lets the doctor and therapist take a careful look at how your child swallows.

Before you come to the hospital, explain to your child what will happen. For young children, use simple words and explain what will happen, only shortly before the test.

Your child may not eat or drink anything for 4 hours before the test, including gum, mints or candy. If your child receives tube feedings, they should be stopped 4 hours prior to the test.

Remember to bring your child's eating utensils and favorite food / beverage choices. Please bring a food or drink your child has trouble swallowing.

Your child will be put into a special chair that will adjust to a similar position he / she normally eats or drinks in at home (i.e., sitting, lying). Your child's food will be mixed with a liquid called barium. It is necessary to mix the barium with the food or liquid so that it will highlight your child's throat on the X-rays.

A parent or family member may be asked to feed your child the barium-prepared items so that your child is more comfortable during the test. A therapist will be there during the test. The therapist may ask your child to change position or to try different textured foods / liquids to help find the safest and best way for your child to eat.

This test does not hurt, but your child may dislike the taste of the food or liquid. You are encouraged to stay with your child during the test. Children are often more cooperative and less apprehensive when a loved one is with them. If you are pregnant, you will have to leave the room during the pictures. It is helpful to have another caregiver watch the child's siblings so you can be with your child.

The test usually takes about 30-45 minutes.

When all the X-ray pictures are taken, the radiologist and the therapist may review the tape with you. The technologist or therapist will let you know when the exam is complete. Your child may return to normal daily activities. A written report of the results will be available to your child's doctor within 24 hours. He / she will contact you about the results.

It is possible that your child's stool may appear to be whitish in color for 24-48 hours after the test due to the barium that he / she has swallowed. Whitish stool is not cause for concern. Encouraging your child to drink fluids will allow his / her stool to return to normal within a short time.


Last Updated 06/2012