OBJECTIVE. We investigated the frequency with which changes in the position of a patient's head or body eliminated aspiration of liquid barium during videofluoroscopic swallowing studies in patients with oropharyngeal dysphagia. We also studied factors that influenced the effect of posture on aspiration. SUBJECTS AND METHODS. The study group comprised 165 patients consecutively referred for videofluoroscopic examination of the oropharyngeal stages of swallowing in whom aspiration of barium occurred while swallowing 1, 3, 5, or 10 ml of thin liquid barium or drinking barium from a cup. When aspiration occurred, the patient changed to one of five postures (chin down, chin up, head rotated, head tilted, and lying down), selected on the basis of the specific swallowing abnormality causing the aspiration. RESULTS. Changes in head or body position eliminated aspiration of at least one bolus of barium in 127 (77%) of the 165 patients, and of all four boluses plus drinking barium from a cup in 41 patients (25%). Postural changes were less beneficial in preventing aspiration in patients with substantial language or cognitive defects or restricted head movement. CONCLUSIONS. Postural techniques can eliminate aspiration of barium of at least small volumes in most patients. Expansion of the oropharyngeal swallowing study to include the effect of various postures can be done with minimal risk of increased aspiration.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging