The Swallow Study

My regular followers know that Charlie had her swallow study on Friday. Since it was her first one, I was unsure what to expect. Surprisingly, it was relatively quick and of minimal discomfort to Charlie. For parents who may have a swallow study in their future (or for those that just want to know what a swallow study is), this is how Charlie’s swallow study (a barium swallow on video) went.

We were escorted back to pediatric radiology by a speech therapist. Charlie was understandably cranky due to the last time she had eaten was four hours ago. The speech therapist explained that I would feed Charlie different textures while an x-ray video was recorded.

I made the mistake of dressing Charlie in a top with metal snaps. It needed to be removed. While I undressed Charlie, the speech therapist mixed barium samples of various textures for Charlie to swallow.

Next, the speech therapist and I put on lead aprons.

After everything was prepared, the radiologist entered and introduced himself. Charlie was seated in a feeding seat and her bottom half was draped with lead. She protested a little.

Charlie quieted down as the study started and I fed her from a bottle. The speech therapist held a flashing toy to make sure Charlie looked in the correct direction while the radiologist concentrated on the imaging. Charlie did well with the bottle and did not seem to mind the barium mixture.

Next, Charlie drank from a sippy cup with my assistance. This proved to be tricky. Charlie chewed on the spout of the sippy cup. The therapist removed the vent and the fluid overwhelmed Charlie (dribbled out of her mouth). However, a few swallows were obtained and we proceeded with the study.

Later, Charlie ate apple sauce with barium mixed in followed by an even thicker mystery substance. The mystery substance is where Charlie started to have trouble swallowing (as expected).

The actual study took about ten to fifteen minutes. The majority of time was spent with the tasks before and after the study.

Before we left, the speech therapist discussed the results with me. Thankfully, there are no problems with the physical structure of Charlie’s throat. Nor, is she aspirating food.

Charlie’s difficulty with swallowing food is due to an overly sensitive gag reflex. It is a residual aspect of her oral aversion.

The study provided us with useful information. It is one step closer to leaving formula in the past.

preemie feeding


About Rebecca Wood

In May 2012, my pregnancy ended three and a half months early due to severe early onset preeclampsia. This is my collection of thoughts and media. It is an attempt to document and discuss our experience of navigating the post NICU world. View all posts by Rebecca Wood

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