Health Library
Video Swallow Study (VSS)

What is a Video Swallow Study? (VSS)

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

What is Fluoroscopy?

Fluoroscopy is a type of imaging that uses X-Ray pictures to look inside the body. Like a video, these pictures are real time, live, moving images.

What is a Video Swallow Study?

A VSS uses X-rays to take pictures of your child's throat while eating and drinking. It lets the doctor and Speech Pathologist (therapist) look at how your child swallows.

What Should You Know Before a Video Swallow Study?

The patient must have nothing to eat or drink for three hours before the procedure. If the patient receives tube feedings, they should be stopped three hours prior to the test. You may provide medications during the three-hour no-eating period if needed.

If the patient has an insulin pump / glucose sensor it must be removed for the procedure. You will need to bring supplies to the appointment.

Please bring the patient’s eating utensils (cups, bottle with his / her current nipple and different nipple flow rates-faster and slower than the current rate, etc). Also bring favorite food and liquid choices including:

  • Liquid: water, milk, juice, or Pediasure etc.
  • Puree: items such as applesauce or yogurt
  • Solid: items such as cracker, meat, noodles, etc.
  • If the patient struggles with a particular food, please bring that along.

    If you have questions about the swallow study, please call the Radiology department 513-636-6386 or your therapist.

    What Should You Know During a Video Swallow Study?

    The patient will be put into a special chair that will adjust to a position they use for eating or drinking at home (such as sitting or lying down).

    Food will be mixed with a fruit flavored liquid called barium. It is necessary to mix the barium with the foods and liquids so that it will show up on the X-rays.

    A parent or family member may be asked to feed the patient the barium-prepared items so that the patient is more comfortable during the test.

    A therapist will be there during the test. The therapist may ask the patient to change position or try different textured foods/liquids to help find the safest and best way for the patient to eat.

    The test usually takes 30-45 minutes to complete.

    Siblings and other children will not be allowed in the exam room. Please make arrangements for other children as we are unable to provide childcare.

    What Should You Know After a Video Swallow Study?

    When all of the X-ray pictures are taken, the radiologist and the therapist will review the results with you.

    The patient may return to normal daily activities including eating as soon as the study is finished.

    A written report of the results will be sent to your doctor. If there are changes recommended in the patient’s diet because of the results of the study, your doctor or therapist will contact you with the results. Your results will also be available on My Chart.

    It is possible the patient’s stool may appear lighter or whitish in color for 24 to 48 hours after the test due to the barium swallowed. This is not cause for concern. Encouraging the patient to drink fluids will allow his/her stool to return to normal within a short time.

    Last Updated 01/2022

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