Clinical Swallowing Examination
The clinical swallowing examination, often referred to as a bedside swallow study, is conducted by a UW Health speech-language pathologist with special training in swallowing disorders. The patient undergoes an examination to show whether the lips, tongue, palate and face are moving with adequate speed, strength and range of motion.
The patient is then asked to do a dry swallow and an on-command cough, indicating whether or not the swallow is fast and strong enough to swallow foods safely and whether the cough is sharp enough to protect the patient's airway if necessary.
The speech-language pathologist then asks the patient to swallow various food and liquid consistencies. This may include ice chips, thick liquids such as honey, thin liquids such as water, puree, ground textures, mixed consistencies and solid items.
The speech-language pathologist evaluates the strength, speech and safety of each swallow by watching for various symptoms of aspiration, feeling the neck during a swallow and listening to the swallow through a stethoscope.