Preparing for Your Visit to the Swallowing/Dysphagia Clinic

Where To Go


UW Health Digestive Health Center


Registration is near the doors as you come in. You may park for free in front of the Digestive Health Center. You turn onto University Row from University Avenue. Our doors are locked before 6:45am and after 5:30pm.


Preparing Ahead of Time


It is important that you are able to swallow safely until your visit. We want you to do the following things to make sure that you are swallowing safely.

  • Careful swallowing: Chew your food more slowly and thoroughly than normal.
  • Adjusted eating: Eat smaller meals more often and do not eat two hours before bedtime.
  • Try foods with different textures to see if certain ones cause you more problems. Thin liquids, such as coffee and juice can be problem for some people. Dry or sticky foods, such as peanut butter and bread, can make it hard to swallow.
  • Special liquid diets: This may help you stay at a healthy weight and avoid dehydration. You can try liquid diets, such as smoothies, Ensure®, Boost® or Carnation Instant Breakfast®.
  • Avoid alcohol, tobacco and caffeine. These can make reflux worse.
  • Over-the-counter acid suppressing medicines and antacids may give some relief.

Steps to Prepare Ahead of Time

  • Fill out the questionnaire and medical intake form that was provided in the packet. Please bring these forms with you to your appointment.
  • Make a list of all medicines, vitamins and supplements that you are taking.
  • Write down questions to ask your doctor.



If you are scheduled for a procedure on the day of your visit, you may be asked to stop taking some of your medicines. Before starting or stopping any medicine, please talk with your doctor who prescribes your medicine. Follow your procedure instructions and call us if you have any questions.


What To Expect The Day of Your Visit


To make sure that we do all of the necessary tests and services on the day of your visit, we ask that you stop eating and drinking four hours before your appointment.

  • No solid food, milk or dairy products until after your visit.
  • You may drink clear liquids until four hours before you arrive. Some examples include water, apple juice, soda, Gatorade®. Avoid any red or purple liquids.
  • Do not take liquid antacids before your test.
  • Unless you were told to hold or stop your medicines, you may take your normal medicines with a small sip of clear liquid up to one hour before you arrive.
  • If you have a problem food, please feel free to bring it to your appointment.
  • Plan to be with us for up to four hours. The amount of time that visit takes will depend on the number of tests that are needed.

Making A Diagnosis


Several tests may be needed to make the diagnosis. One or more of these tests may be done on the day of your visit. The tests ordered depend on your symptoms, your history and whether the disorder is in the stomach or the esophagus. You may be seen by several specialists including a gastroenterologist, a swallow therapist, a radiologist and a nurse.


Formal tests could include:

  • Modified barium swallow (video fluoroscopic swallow study): A video X-ray shows the mouth, throat and swallowing tube (esophagus) as you swallow different liquids and food mixed with a liquid called barium.
  • Fiber-optic endoscopic swallowing evaluation: This test uses a special camera (endoscope) and a lighted camera to test how you swallow and what you feel in your throat.
  • High resolution pharyngeal manometry: This test measures your throat strength when you swallow.
  • Imaging tests: Computerized tomography (CT) scans.

The following tests might be ordered to look for blockage (obstruction), irritation and motility problems in the swallowing tube (esophagus) and whether the esophagus is pumping too hard or not enough.

  • Barium swallow (esophagram): A video X-ray is used to watch how liquids and food (mixed with a liquid called barium) move through the esophagus when you swallow.
  • Endoscopy: During this test your doctor examines your throat and esophagus with a flexible, narrow tube (endoscope) inserted into your mouth and down the esophagus.
  • Esophageal manometry: A small tube (catheter) is used to measure esophageal pressure and will record how long and how often your muscles contract.
  • Impedance-pH probe: This test measures whether gases or liquids come back up into your esophagus.

Going Home


The UW Health Digest Health Swallowing Disorders Clinic provides a full team-based approach for assessment, testing and treatment for acute and chronic swallowing issues. In many cases, answers and a treatment program can be developed by the end of the day of your visit. Follow up visits are needed so that we know that our treatment plans are working. We will work directly with you to explain, counsel and monitor your progress.


If you have any questions, please call us at the Digestive Health Center at (608) 890-5000 or (855) 342-9900. Our hours are 7am to 5pm Monday-Friday.