Modified Barium Swallow

A video fluoroscopic swallowing exam (VFSE), also referred to as a modified barium swallow exam (MBS), is a radiologic examination that uses a special x-ray called fluoroscopy to assess swallowing function. The individual is observed swallowing various consistencies and textures, ranging from thin barium to barium-coated cookies, to evaluate their ability to swallow safely and effectively. Fluoroscopy allows imaging of anatomical structures in real-time and allows the interpreting physician and speech language pathologist to observe structure and limited function.

The MBS is performed on individuals of all ages that have difficulty swallowing. It is used primarily for evaluating the swallowing function and to look for any evidence of aspiration, which is liquid or food going into the airway instead of staying in the pharynx and esophagus.

In order to help an individual swallow more safely and efficiently, speech-language pathologists may suggest maneuvers, such as tucking or tilting the chin or turning the head while swallowing. The MBS can also be used to evaluate and observe the effectiveness of these swallowing strategies. The speech-language pathologist may also suggest alternating food consistencies or thickening liquids to help prevent aspiration.

We Treat the Following Diagnoses & Conditions:

  • Coughing and/or choking while eating or drinking
  • coughing, choking or drooling with swallowing
  • Wet-sounding voice
  • Changes in breathing when eating or drinking
  • Frequent respiratory infections
  • Known or suspected aspiration pneumonia
  • Masses on the tongue, pharynx or larynx
  • Muscle weakness involving the pharynx
  • Neurologic disorders likely to affect swallowing



Frisbie Memorial Hospital
11 Whitehall Road
Rochester, NH
(603) 332-5211
Monday – Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
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Referral Information

A provider referral for speech therapy is required. The referral needs to include the diagnosis and specify Modified Barium Swallow with Speech Therapy services. The referral can be faxed to Rehabilitation Services at (603) 330-8949.

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