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Modified Barium Swallow (MBS)

Modified barium swallows (MBS) are also known as videofluoroscopy or video swallow studies. A speech therapist will assess a person’s ability to swallow at the bedside or over mealtimes. This assessment gives some useful information but in order to get a more objective view of the person’s unique and specific swallowing abilities and difficulties, as with international standards, a modified barium swallow study is often also recommended. The videofluoroscopic study is also able to assist therapists to make appropriate recommendations as well as develop unique swallow therapy plans. The study itself is conducted at an appropriate radiology department that has the necessary equipment for the swallow study. The speech therapist attends the modified barium swallow study with the patient and uses the consistencies of food that the person seems to be able to tolerate. The speech therapist may also bring some other consistencies to trial. During the assessment, the person will be provided with food or liquid that has been mixed with contrast. The videofluoroscopy machine takes multiple rapid images while the person is eating and these get downloaded onto a disk for the therapist to analyse. The radiology department will generate a medical report based on the findings and the speech therapist will also generate a report highlighting the causes of the swallowing difficulty and the plan for therapy. A person may need to have a repeat modified barium swallow study during the course of their therapy to assess whether the therapy has worked or is working.

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